Tourism body okays P157-M budget for Mindanao

Mindanao Development Authority
September 12, 2011

Pagadian City – The Mindanao Development Authority’s (MinDA) advocacy for an increased budget has finally paid off following the approval of the P157-million budget for tourism development in Mindanao this year by the Tourism Infrastructure Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA).

Speaking before the 20th Mindanao Business Conference (Minbizcon) held in Pagadian City, Secretary Luwalhati Antonino, MinDA chairperson, said that in the last 10 years, Mindanao only got an average of 7-10 percent budget share from TIEZA (then Philippine Tourism Authority).

“I am happy to report that in our recent meeting with the TIEZA board, Mindanao got a hefty share of 35 percent from the P448.84-million TIEZA priority infrastructure projects this year,” said Antonino.

Antonino, who sits as member of the TIEZA board of directors, also said that Region 9 or the Zamboanga Peninsula got two of the 29 approved projects for Mindanao, namely, the development of Pulacan falls in Labangan, Zamboanga del Sur and the construction of the Cogon Eco-tourism development project in Dipolog City, Zamboanga del Norte.

Antonino added that MinDA shall continue in its efforts to secure financing support for the Mindanao imperatives by engaging more public-private partnerships while advocating for a fair share in the national budget.

“Unlike before that we only had a measly share of their [TIEZA] budget, Mindanao is now given attention”, said Antonino adding that tourism has a multiplier effect in terms of job creation.

The Mindanao tourism industry welcomes the increased budget of the island-region, which has been their clamor for the past decade.

“TIEZA has made an unprecedented move to develop a strong backbone for tourism in Mindanao”, said Mr. Art Boncato, Department of Tourism (DOT) regional director for Region 11. Boncato said that tourism is a major economic driver for Mindanao. The island-region’s potential for nature-based and cultural tourism is one of the bests in the country and that “strategic infrastructure support ensures its sustainability”, he said.

The advocacy for Mindanao’s equitable share in the national budget is one of the strategies identified toward achieving the overall peace and development goals for Mindanao in the next 20 years.

According to the Mindanao 2020 Peace and Development Framework Plan (Mindanao 2020), tourism development can be a win-win for the economy and environment and must be pursued vigorously through policy reform and public investments.

The promotion of the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East Asean Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) as premier ecotourism destination also provides substantial growth potential in Mindanao tourism.

In the medium term (2011-2016), DOT has taken a cluster approach in pursuing tourism promotion, with nine defined clusters for Southern Philippines (Mindanao) highlighting various types of tourism assets.

The clusters include the Surigao-Dinagat islands, Cagayan de Oro-Tangub Coast and Hinterland, Zamboanga Peninsula and the Bukidnon highlands among others.

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