Mindanao gets P157-M tourism dev’t budget

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/17 September) —  The Tourism Infrastructure Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) has allocated P157 million to further develop the tourism industry in Mindanao, Sec. Luwalhati Antonino, chair of the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA), said.

TIEZA, formerly the Philippine Tourism Authority, increased its annual allocation for Mindanao, which in the last 10 years only received an average of seven to 10 percent budget share from the agency, Antonino announced at the recently concluded 20th Mindanao Business Conference in Pagadian City.

“I am happy to report that in our recent meeting with the TIEZA board, Mindanao got a hefty share of 35% from the Php448.84-million TIEZA priority infrastructure projects this year,” Antonino said in a statement.

Antonino who sits as member of the TIEZA board of directors also said that Region 9 or the Zamboanga Peninsula got two of the 29 approved projects for Mindanao namely the development of Pulacan falls in Labangan, Zamboanga del Sur and the construction of the Cogon Eco-tourism development project in Dipolog City, Zamboanga del Norte.

She added that MinDA shall continue in its efforts to secure financing support for the Mindanao initiatives by engaging more public-private partnerships while advocating for a fair share in the national budget.

“Unlike before when we only had a measly share of their (TIEZA) budget, Mindanao is now given attention,”  Antonino said, adding that tourism has a multiplier effect in terms of job creation.

Mindanao tourism industry officials welcome the increased budget, their clamor for a decade now.

“TIEZA has made an unprecedented move to develop a strong backbone for tourism in Mindanao,” Art Boncato, Department of Tourism (DOT) regional director for Region 11, was quoted in the same statement.

Boncato said tourism is “a major economic driver for Mindanao.”

The island-region’s potential for nature-based and cultural tourism is one of the best in the country and that “strategic infrastructure support ensures its sustainability,” he said.

The advocacy for Mindanao’s equitable share in the national budget is one of the strategies identified towards achieving the overall peace and development goals for Mindanao in the next 20 years.

According to the Mindanao 2020 Peace and Development Framework Plan (Mindanao 2020), tourism development “can be a win-win for the economy and environment and must be pursued vigorously through policy reform and public investments. “
The promotion of the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia- Philippines East Asean Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) as premier ecotourism destination also provides substantial growth potential in Mindanao tourism.

In the medium term (2011-2016), DOT has taken a cluster approach in pursuing tourism promotion, with nine defined clusters for Mindanao highlighting various types of tourism assets.

The clusters include the Surigao-Dinagat islands, Cagayan de Oro-Tangub coast and hinterland, Zamboanga Peninsula and the Bukidnon highlands, among others. (Bong Sarmiento/MindaNews)