Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco led the groundbreaking ceremony and Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) signing of the first of a nationwide series of Tourist Rest Areas (TRA) in Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon and Samal Island in Davao del Norte on October 7 (Friday).
“The tourist rest area was conceptualized in fulfillment of one of our objectives in the Department of Tourism (DOT) to ensure that we equalize tourism promotion and development not only in the key destinations within the country, but also to lesser known areas that have great potential for tourism development. It is our President’s desire to spread economic opportunity and livelihood all over the Philippines, especially and including Mindanao,” said Sec, Frasco at the groundbreaking ceremony in Bgy. Tankulan, Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon.
DOT Tourist Rest Areas
The Tourist Rest Area is one of the flagship programs of Sec. Frasco, and is grounded on the DOT’s vision to provide convenience and comfort to tourists. The TRA will highlight the provision of clean restrooms for tourists in transit to various tourist destinations.
The Tourist Rest Area will also have a Coffee Shop, Pasalubong and Souvenir Store, Tourist Information Area, and a Charging Station.
Reflecting the President’s pronouncements during his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) on the need to promote an enhanced Filipino brand, the Tourist Rest Areas will adopt the use of local materials and design elements. The facilities will also be equipped with information centers, and pasalubong centers that will showcase a variety of products that are proudly made in the Philippines.
MOA with the LGU
The MOA pertinent to the TRA involves a tripartite arrangement in the establishment and maintenance of the place. Stipulated in the agreement is the joint undertaking between the DOT, the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA), and the Local Government Unit (LGU) where the TRA is located.
As the tourism infrastructure arm of the government, TIEZA is in charge of the funding and construction of the TRAs, while the DOT serves as the overall monitor and evaluator of the project as its primary concept originator, and the LGUs are tasked with the day-to-day operation and maintenance of the area. Upon turnover, the LGUs are permitted to lease part of the facilities to the private sector to recover the cost of its upkeep.
“We will have a criteria for the maintenance of the tourist rest area to be monitored by our regional office. If the LGU reaches 90% of this criteria, then we will give a prize to the LGU by way of project or financial incentive and that is how we will ensure that the tourism rest area will be properly maintained,” Sec. Frasco disclosed.
TRA in Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon
The Tourist Rest Area in Manolo Fortich will cater to travelers particularly those on a road trip to tourist destinations around the municipalities of Manolo Fortich, Impasug-ong, Sumilao and Libona of Bukidnon and other areas in Mindanao.
“When this place was identified as a venue for the tourist rest area, we were made aware by the DOT Region X that it is also a jump off point and a stopover point to our neighboring provinces and therefore this is a strategic place to put the tourist rest area here in Manolo Fortich,” Sec, Frasco noted.
“The Tourist Rest Area is not just about clean restrooms, the vision of our President Ferdinand Marcos Jr, as translated by our Tourism Secretary through her 7-point tourism agenda, more than many others, are grounded on seamless travel and convenience to tourists, job generation to those who will be servicing the rest areas and promotion of local products coming from surrounding localities” said TIEZA COO Mark Lapid during his welcome remarks at the activity held in Manolo Fortich.
Manolo Fortich Mayor Rogelio Quiño willingly accepted the challenge to operate and pursue upgraded services to transients and tourist that will eventually use the TRA.
“This is a happy and historic day for all of us because the very first tourist rest area that we have broken ground is here in Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon. I hope that this conveys to the Philippines and to the rest of the world the seriousness with which we intend to fully open Mindanao to tourism,” said Sec. Frasco in her closing statement.
More TRAs across the country
The second TRA will be situated at the City Hall complex in Penaplata, Island Garden City of Samal (IGaCOS) where Secretary Frasco also led the groundbreaking and MOA signing of the Tourist Rest Area in Davao del Norte in the afternoon of October 7.
According to Sec, Frasco, the DOT aims to establish a TRA in every region in the country.
A total of 10 initial TRAs are scheduled for groundbreaking before the end of the year. Several more TSCRAs are expected to be constructed all over the country with Baguio City, Bohol, and Ilocos being eyed as next sites of DOT’s Tourist Rest Areas. (Text & photos Dept. of Tourism-Philippines)