By: Catherine Talavera (The Philippine Star)
Published on on January 26, 2020 – 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) is planning to spend around P602 million to craft tourism development programs for a number of destinations around the country, in line with ensuring the rehabilitation and sustainability of tourist spots.

In an interview, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said the DOT, through its infrastructure arm TIEZA, needs to take a more pro-active role in the rehabilitation and development of tourists destination in the country.

“We want to do it now so that Boracay will not happen again. You have to be proactive now,” Puyat said referring to Boracay, which was closed for six months in 2018 to pave way for its rehabilitation.

Puyat said the DOT has already approved a number of tourism development plans that will focus on the masterplanning of destinations.

“From there, you will see what local infrastructure needs to be put in place,” Puyat said.

At present, there six ongoing masterplanning projects being undertaken by TIEZA. Among these are the masterplanning of Camotes Island, Bantayan island, Maribojoc Island in Bohol, fourth district of Leyte, Siargao Island and Corregidor and surrounding islands.

In addition, the historical masterplan of Intramuros and Manila, as well as the Cavite historical masterplan projects are currently in the contract procurement stages.

Meanwhile, TIEZA has already approved a masterplanning project for Central Visayas.

There are currently eight masterplanning projects waiting for TIEZA board approval. Among these are masterplanning projects for Davao Region, Bicol Region, Central Luzon, CALABARZON, Ilocos Region, Northern Mindanao, Palawan and Western Visayas.

Puyat said the masterplanning of destinations will create a organized environment for tourism development.

“You really cannot develop anything without a plan,” TIEZA chief operating officer Pocholo Paragas told The STAR earlier “And the best way to do is to really masterplan the different locations to ensure that the sustainability, concept and really the supply chain of both the government and the private sector are really planned out and concrete.”

The TIEZA COO emphasized that the push for more sustainable tourism destinations is really driven by the lesson of Boracay’s closure in 2018.

“Even before it happens to other locations, we’re already going there. DOT, TPB, TIEZA and all the other departments are really working together to make sure that the learning from this specific island that had to go under closure will never happen to other locations,” Paragas said.

Paragas said earlier it would take roughly 18 months to finish masterplanning a destination, depending on the components and the extent of the masterplan.

“From there, you should be able to see the direction of what needs to be done,”Paragas said.