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Tourists Rest Areas: For comfort, convenience while traveling

Tourism has been identified as one of the key components of revitalizing the Philippine economy after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Infrastructure is the primary intervention that most national and local government officials are looking at to  pump-prime tourism. Some build view-decks,  canopies walkways, roads, and room accommodations on the sites eyed as tourist destinations to entice guests and visitors.  

For Department of Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco, reinvigorating tourism  just takes the very basic thought of providing comfort and convenience for tourists as they travel and explore places anywhere in the country.

“Usa sa atong nakita  nga pinaka importante nga hatagan ug pagtagad mao ang comfort and convenience sa atong mga torista.  Bisan asa ta maglawig manginahanglan man jud ta ug CR.  (One of the things we’ve seen that we need to give attention to,  is the comfort and convenience of our tourists. Anywhere we travel, we need CR (comfort rooms),” she said during the recent opening rites of the Department of Tourism Tourist Rest Area (DOT TRA) in   the Island Garden City of Samal at the City Hall compound in Sitio Maag, Barangay Penaplata.

“Apan usa kini sa atong nakita nga wala pa kaaayo na hatagan ug pagtagad (But this is one of those which have not been fully given attention to),” she added.

Emblem of fulfillment

Secretary Frasco looked at the TRA as one of the emblems of fulfillment of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s vision “to enhance the entire tourism experience by investing in Infrastructure connectivity, digitalization and innovation and by strengthening tourism governance of our national local and private sector partners.”

She then thanked Samal City Mayor Al David Uy for graciously providing the space to construct the Samal DOT TRA, which is  far beyond the usual comfort rooms. 

Uy reiterated his appreciation to DOT and extended his particular gratitude to Secretary Frasco for prioritizing Samal, which he affectionately described as "the jewel of the Davao Gulf."

“Rest assured Ma’am of our continued support to all programs of DOT,”  he said.

The TRA provides a cozy lounge area, gift and souvenir corner, a charging station, and information desk catering to queries of tourists regarding places-to-go  in Samal and other tourist destinations.

The Samal City TRA was the second in Mindanao that Secretary Frasco inaugurated for public use. The first was in Manolo Fortich in the province of Bukidnon.

Secretary Frasco revealed that 10 DOT TRAs have already been opened nationwide under the administration of President Marcos.

She banked on the assistance of the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) and the local government units (LGUs) to construct  and open 15 more TRAs, targeting a total of 25 operational  TRAs  nationwide by next year.

“Nakita sab nato nga pamaagi sa Rest Areas mahatagan ug higayon  ang atong ginagmay nga negosyo aron  mabaligya nila ang ilang mga product; for them to sell local goods and wares; provide conveniences to our tourists even to the extent of providing lactation rooms for mothers  who bring their babies as they journey,”  she said referring to the widescale benefits of TRAs for local micro entrepreneurs, and for travelling mothers as well.

Meanwhile, Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) Secretary Maria Belen Sunga-Acosta felt excited about the rollout of TRA projects especially in Mindanao, now that the national emergency status of Mindanao had been lifted, freeing it from negative and adverse travel advisories of foreign embassies.

“The ultimate goal of attracting investment opportunities and tourist arrivals is now within reach because now we are on a much better position to communicate  a new narrative for Mindanao,” she said.

Citing the DOT TRA as one of the Philippine priority projects under tourism and infrastructure development, Acosta also viewed it as crucial in revving up  the tourism industry in the BIMP East ASEAN Growth Area. 

“Let us work harder to invest in Mindanao. Let us continue to improve our tourist destinations and let us always love the Philippines,” Acosta said.

Earlier in her speech,  Frasco underscored the substantial advantages of tourism for both the local and national economies, particularly as it made a recovery in 2022. This resurgence followed a decline during the COVID-19 pandemic, which had halted tourism activities for over two years from 2020 to the early part of 2022.

“Buot nato nga hatagan ug higayon ang Pilipinas  nga molambo pag ayo pamaagi sa turismo kay atong nakita ggyod ang makahatag ug kumpletong oportunidad sa atong mga kaigsoonang Pilipino nga  moangat ang kalidad sa ilang kinabuhi  (We want to give the Philippines the opportunity  to fully develop thru tourism because we have seen that this provides  a complete opportunity for our Filipino brethren to raise their standard of living),” Frasco said.

Noting a rebound in tourism,, she revealed that an estimated Php 1.87 trillion pesos combined visitor receipts were generated from both foreign and local tourist arrivals in 2022, and this created a 5.35 million jobs for Filipinos nationwide.

Thisearning and jobs  generation, posted  a 93 percent recovery from the slump in tourism and employment starting 2019 that run through the period of the pandemic.

“Naglaum kita sa atong umaabot nga buwan mas molambo pa jud ang turismo. (We are hoping that in the coming months, tourism will even more flourish),” she said.

Frasco will  continue to move around the country and will keep coming  back to Mindanao and Davao to trigger a vibrance in tourism, and basically to  create that atmosphere of comfort and convenience for tourists.

“Our tourists are important to us as they are helping us revive the tourism Industry, therefore it is only right that we show them the love and warmth of the Filipino people thru these TRAs,” she said.  (JDA/PIA Davao del Norte/Photos from Samal Island Information Office )

About the Author

Jeanevive Abangan

Deputy Regional Head

Region 11

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