LILOAN Mayor Christina Frasco is pushing for legislation to promote land ownership to increase potential investments in the islands of Cebu.
Speaking during the Cebu Business Month (CBM) 2021 virtual Tourism Summit, Frasco, who is also president of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines-Cebu Chapter, said besides providing support infrastructure, it is also high time to push anew land ownership through titling to boost further the island economies of Cebu.
“In terms of increasing the investment potential of our tourist areas, especially in the islands where the inalienability of public land continues to present unjust barriers to locals from owning land as well as dissuade outside investment or further development, legislation promoting land ownership through land titling is essential,” said Frasco.
“While subject of much debate in our country, there is no denying from developments we have seen in our Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) neighbors such as Singapore, Japan and South Korea that easing constitutional restrictions on foreign ownership of land has massive potential for the influx of foreign direct investments — creating more avenues for tourism-related opportunities for both capital and labor,” she added.
Bantayan Island was declared a wilderness area through Presidential Proclamation 2151 issued by then President Marcos in December 1981. The declaration covers 14,183.50 hectares in all three municipalities of Santa Fe, Bantayan and Madridejos.
Camotes Islands, on the other hand, was declared a mangrove forest reserve by Marcos in 1980.
Lots in Bantayan and Camotes cannot be privately owned or titled. These two islands are part of Cebu tourism hotspots that have been creating tourism activities for the province.
Frasco believes that local government units have a crucial role to play in this fight, especially since tourism has been badly hit by the Covid-19 pandemic. She said key to long-term stability of the sector is institutionalizing measures that would ensure continued inflow of investments.
“In terms of socioeconomic protections for tourism stakeholders, the importance of government intervention has become even more imminent in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic that resulted in massive losses across the board, from resorts to airline, land, and sea travel providers, to tour operators, and caused so much suffering, hardship, job loss and lower income for the industries’ employees and suppliers,” she said.
Besides promoting land ownership, Frasco also identified other government interventions for the tourism industry to flourish big-time under this new environment. These are emergency employment programs, medical and financial assistance programs, emergency capital investment programs through subsidies for businesses, tax credit programs, and the like.
“The enactment of investment codes granting incentives for tourism-related businesses could also greatly encourage capital investment into our towns and cities,” said Frasco.
Michael “Mike” Cubos, chairman of CBM 2021, said the task faced by tourism stakeholders is not only to simply return to business as usual but to focus on accelerating the pace towards achieving goals.
Cubos said if the tourism sector is helping the economy recover, it must grow and transform, and beyond such growth it must also rise forward.
CBM 2021 is an annual business activity by the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry. (KOC)