In what is perhaps another first in the history of Philippine tourism, the Department of Tourism (DOT) forged a convergence with the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) through the signing of a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) that seeks to boost tourism infrastructure projects in priority tourist destination areas in the Philippines under a “Convergence Program for Enhancing Tourism Access.”
“This is something that has been long and coming. In fact, when you think about it, this is happening for the very first time. That’s helping to build a strong public sector institution that promotes transparency, good governance especially in tourism – an industry which has now gained national importance,” said Tourism Secretary Ramon R. Jimenez Jr. in his speech at the signing.
The MOA calls for, among others, the development of Tourism Road Infrastructure Program (TRIP) Criteria led by DOT, and identifies Convergence Champions to provide policy guidelines and supervision in formulating the TRIP. Tourism Undersecretary for Tourism Planning and Promotions Daniel G. Corpuz is the designated Convergence Champion for DOT.
The agencies will be aided by the Research, Education and Institutional Development (REID) Foundation, a policy research and advocacy institute based in Metro Manila. The foundation is currently implementing a “Partnership for Better Infrastructure and Tourism Management” technical assistance program with select civil society, business and government groups, and had previously signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with DPWH and the Department of Education (DepEd) on a school building program.
Also to be established is a Technical Working Group (TWG) composed of division chiefs, technical and administrative staff from both DOT and DPWH. The TWG will be co-chaired by DOT Director for Tourism Development Planning, Research and Information Management Rolando Cañizal.
The TWG will prepare the Multi-Year Program and Forward Estimates of prioritized tourism road projects and an Annual Tourism Road Infrastructure Program. TWG members will also undergo a training program to fine-tune the TRIP Criteria, to be organized by the REID Foundation. The set of criteria considers four basic guidelines, namely: road network importance, tourism importance, project readiness and other economic and social development impacts.
Sec. Jimenez said the convergence advances implementation efforts for the National Tourism Development Plan towards achieving an envisioned 10 million foreign visitor arrivals by 2016.
“The DOT and the DPWH partnership will also contribute to the promotion of inclusive growth and poverty reduction by integrating communities to the tourism value chain and building local institutions through better or improved road connectivity. Again, in pursuit of the vision that tourism is the people’s business,” Sec.Jimenez added.