DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/01 September) – A bridge linking the Island Garden City of Samal and this city will mean more tourists coming to Talikud Island, Davao del Norte Governor Rodolfo P. Del Rosario said.
In a speech at the Ambassador’s Club Convention at the Marco Polo Davao last Saturday evening, Del Rosario said the bridge and other infrastructures that would improve accessibility to the island from other parts of the Davao Gulf would lead to increased tourist arrivals at the 3,000-hectare island located behind Samal.
Talikud Island boasts of kilometers-long white sand beaches, coral gardens, and a rich marine ecosystem, del Rosario said.
“It has been a favorite stopover of tourists and considered as one of the best diving sites in the world,” he added.
“The most viable solution which we already laid down before our national planners is the construction of the bridge connecting Samal Island to Davao City. We expect that trip to Talikud then would be a walk in the park,” he said.
The governor said the rehabilitation of Talikud Island’s 16-kilometer circumferential road would contribute to better accessibility of the island.
He said the provincial government was bringing investments into the island and has launched interventions to promote “inclusive development”, such as the hiring of locals for jobs in the service industry as well as capacity development programs.
“One is the program dubbed Ugmad Komunidad. It delivers community driven skills training workshops allied to tourism and sports, and promotes socially inclusive sports-tourism through micro-entrepreneurship,” del Rosario said.
Ugmad Komunidad encourages Samal residents to participate more effectively in the development process, he said.
“In two years onwards, we expect Talikud to be a rising premier tourist destination. We have asked the aid of other national government agencies in pursuing more community preparation programs,” he said.
Del Rosario tourist arrivals in 2013 reached 375,468 or 7.2% higher than the number of visitors in 2012.
The governor, who also chairs the Regional Development Council, said the Samal-Davao bridge would cost around P10 billion.
Vehicles coming from Davao City cross toward Samal Island via several barge services at Sasa port.
“However, the barges can no longer handle the rising vehicle volume,” del Rosario said.
The project is already under the feasibility study stage, along with plans for the creation of an airport in the island, according to the Department of Transportation and Communication.
Del Rosario said the island depends on Davao City for tourist arrivals from outside Mindanao since it had no airport of its own.
Department of Tourism assistant secretary Arturo Boncato Jr. said the RDC was also considering a proposal by the DOT for the creation of a cruise ship center in the gulf at a technical working group meeting of the RDC last August 27. (MindaNews)