The Groundbreaking and Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) signing for the series of the Department of Tourism and TIEZA’s Tourist Service Rest Areas (TRA) continued today (October 8) in Cebu towns of Carmen and Medellin.
“Today we are breaking ground on the tourist rest areas in Carmen and Medellin. Our President Bongbong Marcos has said that tourism has the potential to become a major economic pillar for the Philippine resurgence. And he has clearly identified tourism as a priority in his administration,” said Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco during the MOA signing in Barangay Poblacion, Carmen.
“The establishment of the Tourist Rest Areas (TRA) fulfills the objectives that we have set out in the Department of Tourism including improving the overall tourist experience. This is a very strategic place to put the TRA because it is right along the highway and Carmen, (Cebu) is the middle point to the rest of our destinations here in Cebu. Our goal is to ensure that our tourists feel comfortable in their journey as they travel across the country,” the Secretary added.
Secretary Frasco likewise underscored the necessity of putting in place a Tourist Rest Area for travelers in Cebu, a province that has consistently figured in the top three most frequented destinations in the past three years according to data submitted to the DOT by accommodation establishments across the country.
As had been noted during the earlier TRA launchings, the rest areas are meant to deliver comfort and ease of travel to tourists and transients traveling to different tourist destinations in the country. Other than the crucial restrooms that are a necessity to the traveling public, the TRAs will also include a coffee shop, pasalubong and souvenir store, information center, and a charging station.
The program is a joint undertaking by the DOT, the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA), and the Local Government Unit (LGU) where the establishment is located.
The TIEZA is tasked to fund and construct the infrastructure for the rest areas. While the DOT acts as the overall overseer of the program, the LGUs are responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of the place. Upon turnover, the LGUs are allowed to lease certain portions of the TRA to the private sector to possibly recoup the cost of its sustainability.
As announced by Secretary Frasco, the maintenance of the Tourist Rest Areas will be incentivized. A specific criteria are provided to the LGU to ascertain the proper maintenance of the area. LGUs that will be able to comply 90% of the criteria set as a target by the DOT will be given a financial incentive or a project for the LGU. Periodic assessment and monitoring of the rest areas will be done by the Regional office of the DOT.
Both events were graced by Cebu Governor Gwen Garcia who remarked that “Today’s event is truly groundbreaking literally and figuratively. A while ago we were across the street to break ground on a project that is truly most meaningful and useful. But also figuratively, this is a groundbreaking first for the Secretary of Tourism to break ground on a project in Cebu within her first 100 days.”
“(The Secretary’s) listening tours in the past days were important to gather enough inputs (to her administration). There must always be coordination with national and local government units because we cannot believe that we have exclusivity of knowledge, but from these inputs, we are able to craft good policies,” the Governor added.
Together with Secretary Frasco and Governor Garcia in the Carmen TRA groundbreaking and MOA signing were TIEZA COO Mark Lapid, Deputy Speaker and Cebu 5th District Representative Vincent “Duke” Frasco, and Carmen Mayor Carlo Villamor.
Meanwhile, the Tourism Secretary also led the groundbreaking and MOA signing of the TRA in Medellin, Cebu on the afternoon of October 8. Other than TIEZA COO Lapid, and Governor Garcia, those who formalized the launching ceremonies included 4th District Congresswoman Janice Salimbangon and Medellin Mayor Joven Mondigo, Jr.
DOT officials who joined the groundbreaking ceremony include Undersecretaries Mae Elaine T. Bathan, Shahlimar Hofer Tamano, Ferdinand Jumapao, and Assistant Secretary Khristine Chiong-Genegobis.