The Regional Development Council (RDC) MIMAROPA conducted the Regional Tourism Investment Forum at Fersal Hotel in Puerto Princesa City on July 26. It was participated in by the RDC members, representatives from local government units (LGUs), state universities and colleges (SUCs), and Palawan Tourism Council.
The forum intended to identify tourism investment potentials in the region and to thresh-out issues and concerns impeding tourism development. Atty. Joshua Bolusa, the provincial administrator of Palawan welcomed the participants.
Department of Tourism (DOT) Assistant Secretary for Tourism Regulation, Coordination, and Resource Generation Maria Rica C. Bueno delivered Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat’s keynote address. In her message, she emphasized on the unique mandates of tourism to sell and ensure that the beauty of the country is preserved, while people get to enjoy a unique Philippine travel experience. She added that the country needs to diversify its tourism markets by building greater awareness in the country’s undiscovered, unchartered, and untapped tourism sites and products.
Meanwhile, NEDA MIMAROPA Regional Director (RD) Atty. Raul S. Anlocotan presented the forum overview while Mr. Bernardino A. Atienza, Jr. presented the highlights of the Regional Development Plan (2017-2022). Director Maria Luisa S. Diploma of DOT MIMAROPA then presented the region’s tourism situationer.
Chairman of Iloilo Economic Development (ILED) Foundation and former Department of Tourism Secretary Ms. Narzalina Z. Lim, and Executive Director of ILED and Iloilo Business Club Ms. Maria Victoria Lea Lara, served as resource speakers.
Ms. Lim shared how to encourage private sector investments in tourism. She stressed the specific elements that should be present for private sector to invest such as access, internal connectivity, infrastructure, attractions and activities, accommodations, amenities and services, and skilled work force which should likewise be incorporated in a tourism plan. She also tackled the roles of LGUs to facilitate tourism investments such as collection of accurate, up-to-date and useful data; creation of a hospitable and enabling environment for investors; and establishment of clearly defined investment goals. She also presented some major tourism-related accomplishments particularly in the province of Palawan which may also be replicated in other areas of the region.
Ms. Lara, on the other hand, shared how Iloilo harnessed public-private sector partnerships for economic development. She presented how Iloilo steered development on specific areas like local utilities, infrastructure, air, land and water connectivity, education, and governance, underscoring strong political will of local leaders as primary fuel to the realization of such developments. She also shared how Iloilo developed a world class festival such as “Dinagyang” which already celebrated its 50th year this 2018. She stressed that creating a business-friendly and enabling environment is on top of all investment promotions.
Meanwhile, group workshops were conducted in the afternoon to gather inputs on the following areas: (a) tourism products and services, (b) tourism investments promotion, (c) infrastructure support, and (d) governance. Inputs provided by the participants were discussed and processed to identify the primary issues and concerns affecting the tourism industry such as undeveloped tourism products and lack of product development, low management or institutional capacity, inconsistent marketing and branding activities, low level or lack of awareness of region’s existing tourism investment promotion opportunities, poor access and connectivity, and lack of tourism plans and data.
Group outputs were then presented to the plenary after the workshop. Dr. Maria Cherry Lyn S. Rodolfo, consultant of The Asia Foundation, served as forum moderator.
In her closing remarks, NEDA Assistant RD Susan A. Sumbeling appreciated the contributions of all participants. She emphasized that every stakeholder is expected to share to attain the tourism development goals while the RDC ensures its support.
Meanwhile, all participants signed the declaration of commitment to advocate MIMAROPA as a destination of choice.