Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco led the groundbreaking ceremony of the 10th Tourist Rest Area (TRA) in Palawan which aims to enhance the overall tourist experience of both foreign and local visitors.
The TRA, a flagship project of the DOT that is among the priority programs of President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., is a convergence point that foreign and local travelers could approach to: get information on tourism sites and attractions, activities, accommodations; report concerns related to safety and security; and gain access to other provisions necessary during their stay at a destination, such as a clean restroom.
It will also have charging stations and a pasalubong center that would help boost the livelihood of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs).
During the ceremony, Frasco was joined by Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) Chief Operating Officer (COO) Mark Lapid, and Roxas Mayor Dennis Sabando, who all formally signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) to build the new tourist facility in Roxas town in the Province of Palawan.
The signing event was witnessed by Palawan 1st District Representative Edgardo Salvame, and 2nd District Representative Jose Alvarez, who was the former governor of the province.
The facility will rise in between El Nido, Coron, and San Vicente, considered as the tourist magnets of the province where bulk of its tourist arrivals come from.
“We have broken the ground on this tourist rest area in Palawan, particularly in Roxas. This is well-situated in between other LGUs in Palawan for the purpose of ensuring that we fulfill one of the objectives of the President and that is to enhance the overall tourism experience,” the tourism chief said in a speech, citing that collaboration is essential for the recovery of the sector.
“Tourism is not a one-man job.”
“Having been a local chief executive, we aim to strengthen tourism governance through close collaboration with our national government, our local government officials as well as public and private stakeholders. Tourism is not a one-man job. It is only by our collaboration between each other that we would be able to rise back in the industry stronger than ever,” the tourism head noted.
For his part, the Mayor thanked the DOT for choosing Roxas as one of the recipients of the tourist pit stop.
“Ito po ay napakalaking tulong sa ating Bayan ng Roxas kaya ako po ay nagpapasalamat sa inyo,” Sabando stressed.
Based on the MOA, the DOT through TIEZA, will fund the TRA and the local government unit (LGU) of Roxas will be responsible for the operation and maintenance of the tourist rest stop.
Frasco said the DOT, through its Regional Office, will actively monitor the TRA and will offer incentives to the LGU if found compliant of the criteria set by the Tourism Department.
Considered as an emerging tourist destination, the town of Roxas prides itself with a number of tourism wonders, including Banwa Private Island, Modessa Island Resort, Bat Sanctuary in Pagbo Island, Purao Island Beach, Kilala Campsite, New Rizal Waterfalls, Isla Kurabo, Willano’s River, Kariyana’s Field Madles Sandbar, Maoyao Sandbar, Johnson Sandbar, Alibanwa Falls, Cayasan Falls, Barbican River, Magara Garden, Mahogany Aisle, and Malatgao Falls.
The local officials emphasized that the project will surely boost Palawan’s tourism.
Alvarez said that the goal of the province is to achieve the 5 million tourist arrivals, surpassing its pre-pandemic figures of 2.3 million.
“Let’s work together to achieve that 5 million [tourist arrivals]. I will do my best together with our colleagues in Congress to increase the budget of tourism,” he stressed.
“Alam ko hindi po dito matatapos ang pagtulong ninyo [Sec. Frasco]. Magtutuloy tuloy po ang pagdevelop ng ating lugar,” Salvame added.
Frasco underscored the “strength of domestic tourism to support the local economy,” where she noted that the DOT is now pushing for aggressive initiatives to further grow domestic tourism.
“How are we going to do that? That is through close coordination with our mayors, our governors, our district representatives, recognizing that none of these plans and policies will work without the help, the coordination, and collaboration of our local officials,” she said.
“Gagawa po tayo ng cross-province tourism circuits kung saan ‘yung ating mga well-known provinces, we will link them up sa mga lesser-known provinces.”
“Therefore, gagawa po tayo ng cross-province tourism circuits kung saan ‘yung ating mga well-known provinces, we will link them up sa mga lesser-known provinces to ensure na ‘yung ating nga turista they will get to know other parts of the country as well,” Frasco explained.
“Yung goal po natin hindi na mabalik yung tourism numbers natin pre-pandemic. We have no interest in returning to that. But we are very interested in exceeding those numbers to finally allow the Philippines to take on a primary role in ASEAN and the world because we deserve nothing less,” she emphasized.
Known as the Philippines’ last ecological frontier, Palawan has been accorded with numerous global awards—from the 8th Top Islands in Asia” to “Most Desirable Island” in the Wanderlust Travel Awards, to “one of the 40 destinations on its Go List for 2023.”