DOT to invest on Lake Sebu eco-tourism ventures

Susan del Mundo, head secretariat for the Grassroots Entrepreneurs for Eco-Tourism (GREET) Livelihood Grants Program of the DOT's Philippine Convention and Visitors Corporation, said they are eyeing to provide grants to local entrepreneurs who would pursue various ventures that would help spur the area's eco-tourism industry.

Del Mundo personally made the offer to tourism stakeholders from Sarangani and South Cotabato provinces during a visit to Lake Sebu town.

"The program was conceived to provide livelihood opportunities for promising entrepreneurs who are interested to exploit the inherent tourist-drawing potentials of eco-tourism sites and eventually help them develop into viable sources of income," Del Mundo explained.

She said GREET grants program, which is funded by Duty-Free Philippines, is also in line with the national government's efforts to promote and safeguard the country's eco-tourism sites through the provision of essential services for tourists.

Under the program, Del Mundo said they will offer grants of P50,000 to P100,000 to groups or individual entrepreneurs with feasible eco-tourism-related entrepreneurial or business proposals.

But she said they would give priority to young entrepreneurs who are interested to establish a new venture or expand an existing tourism product or service.

Based on their evaluation criteria, Del Mundo said the livelihood grant may be availed by Filipino citizens aged 18 years and above who can show proof of having appropriate training or experience relevant to their proposed business venture.

A prospective beneficiary must also be a resident for at least two years in the town or province where the eco-tourism site is located and must have finished at least the secondary level of education, she said.

Del Mundo said government-recognized or registered community organizations, business associations and local tourism offices based and operating in the town or province where an eco-tourism site is located may also avail the program.

"The only requirement is that they are fully functional and must have at least a minimum amount of organizational funds to sustain the current operational level of their existing activities and projects such as funds from dues, membership fees and other income-generating projects," she said.

Del Mundo said they will give merits to organizations that can demonstrate successful delivery of programs for communities and have a well-developed network of key stakeholders and private sector partners.

She said they would consider the business proposals based on their originality, uniqueness, creativity, viability of implementation and projections, economic impact, potential for job creation, growth potential and capability to promote natural and cultural preservation.

Del Mundo said prospective entrepreneurs may secure application forms at their municipal tourism offices and the GREET secretariat office or online through GREET website She added that the application period will close by the end of August and the awarding of the grants would be made by December.