Tell it to SunStar: High-impact tourism infra projects okayed

THE Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (Tieza) Board has approved almost P4 billion worth of tourism infrastructure projects which seek to promote sustainable tourism, restore and rehabilitate cultural and historical sites and improve overall visitor experience.

During the Board meeting held on Nov. 28, 2019 priority tourism infrastructure projects were approved for the provinces such as Benguet, Palawan, Iloilo, Pampanga, Pangasinan and for Corregidor Island.

Tieza Chief Operating Officer Pocholo Paragas said that the approval of this fourth batch of high-impact tourism infrastructure projects is a major milestone for the agency since it was reorganized in 2009. Prior to the November Board meeting, Tieza had approved P1.2 billion worth of tourism infrastructure projects, which included the rehabilitation and improvement of the Chocolate Hills Complex. In sum, Tieza Board approved a total of P5 billion worth of tourism infrastructure projects in 2019 alone.

“Our tourism infrastructure is not perfect. We need to develop, and build better facilities to ensure that our local and foreign tourists will continue to enjoy our beautiful destinations without compromising environmental sustainability,” Paragas pointed out in a statement.

Paragas explained that Tieza is stepping up its investment in tourism infrastructure in key tourism destination sites to spur growth, create jobs in local communities and ensure the sustainability of each site for future generations.

“The approved projects were recommended by the Tieza infrastructure Committee to the Board after careful evaluation and various consultations with different local government units and regional tourism officials as well as with concerned stakeholders in the respective areas,” he said.

Among the big-ticket projects approved by the Board: Rehabilitation of Burnham Park in Baguio; Construction of Wastewater Treatment Facility, modular floating docks and solar streetlights in Coron, Palawan; Tagkawayan Beach Tourism Development Project, modular floating docks in various barangays in Puerto Princesa, Palawan; Construction of Housing for Hyperbaric Chamber Facilities in El Nido and Coron, Palawan; Restoration/Rehabilitation of three plazas in Iloilo namely Arevalo, Molo and La Paz Plaza; Reconstruction and Retrofitting of St. Agustin Church and San Guillermo Church; Reconstruction of breakwater in Corregidor Island in Cavite City.

“Our thrust is to preserve and rehabilitate cultural and heritage areas, as well as ensure environmental sustainability. One of our flagship infrastructure projects for this batch is the rehabilitation of Burnham Park, an iconic landmark of Baguio, so that more local and foreign tourists can still enjoy the beauty of this tourist attraction,” Paragas said.

Tieza has allocated P400 million for the rehabilitation of the Burnham lake and Children’s park to improve the recreational appeal and tourist value of this national asset.

Palawan, on the other hand, being “The Last Ecological Frontier” of the Philippines and one of the world’s best islands this 2019, according to Travel+Leisure, was also given high priority. The Tieza Board approved a total of P854 million to fund various tourism infrastructure projects in Palawan to provide a better, safe experience for tourists and manage environmental sustainability amid growth in tourist arrivals.

“While we want to boost tourism investments and revenues in our island destinations, we also want to protect our natural resources. We are investing P500 million for the Coron Wastewater Treatment Facility to prevent water pollution that is detrimental to coastal and marine resources,” Paragas explained.

The inclusion of rehabilitation of public plazas in Iloilo and old churches in Pampanga is in line with Tieza’s mandate to provide support for the preservation and restoration of cultural heritage sites which include churches, shrines and plazas.

Specifically, Tieza Board approved P135 million for the three plazas in Iloilo and P83 million for the reconstruction/retrofitting of two churches in Pampanga.

Tieza is also investing P150 million for the reconstruction of breakwater in Corregidor Island as part of its efforts to preserve the beauty of this historic tourist destination. It seeks to preserve and protect the beach area from sand erosion and the existing cottages near the shore from damage brought about by big waves during stormy seasons.

In 2018, Tieza invested more than P1 billion to construct the Boracay Water Drainage Program to address the flooding problem in the island. Through the implementation of these long-term engineering solutions, the Agency hopes that it can help Boracay to be a sustainable tourist destination.

Tieza being the infrastructure arm of the Department of Tourism is committed to invest on tourism infrastructure to improve the local tourist destinations and promote sustainable tourism development in the long run. (Redge Jimenez Lopez)