Commentary: Mainstreaming Eastern Visayas to Central Philippines super region, RP's tourism capital
Tacloban City (November 28) -- President Gloria Arroyo is an amazing leader, envisioning the entire country into Super Regions with specific specializations, to create an enlarged economic landscape based on the natural competitive advantage of these areas.
Under the super-regions concept, which forms part of the Medium-Term Public Investment Program (MTPIP), the country's 16 regions have been grouped into four mega-regions, plus another region that cuts across the four mega-regions.
These are the North Luzon Mega-Region, the Metro Luzon Urban Beltway, the Central Philippines Mega-Region, the Mindanao Mega-Region and the cyber corridor that serves as the cyber link between these four regions.
The President's massive investment program is designed to sustain economic growth, spread progress to all areas of the country through the Mega-Region economic development strategy, and propel the Philippines to the First World status.
Under the Super Region concept of development, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo envisions Regions 5, 6, 7, 8 and 4B as the Central Philippines, the country's Tourism Center and the Center of a New Green Philippines.
In order to achieve this goal, President Arroyo included in the Medium Term Public Investment Program, the necessary infrastructure projects that will pave the way for the realization of the envisioned super regions.
For Region 8, included are infrastructure projects such as airports improvement and redevelopment, road projects for Samar Island and Leyte and Biliran, completion of eastern nautical highway through the roro port projects, irrigation projects, communal irrigation projects and power transmission and geothermal projects.
These projects are supposed to harness the potentials of the Region not only in the area of tourism but also in the areas of power generation, bio-fuel production, marine products and business processing outsourcing.
These will also make the Region more liveable and more competitive. But these are not enough to be able to consider Eastern Visayas as a worthy part of the Central Philippines Super Region.
While there is now the move to make Calicoan Island as the Region's major Tourism destination considering its tourism potential, there is also a need to spread the Central Philippines Super Region enthusiasm in all the levels of government, in all the different provinces, municipalities and barangays in Region 8.
If the Region is to become a part of the Central Philippines Super Region which is envision as the Tourism Center of the country, then there must be a move to include tourism in all the Investment Plans of the provinces and municipalities in Eastern Visayas. While Calicoan is now the focal tourism spot, there is no stopping the other local governments in the Region from developing their respective tourist destinations and finding their respective niche in the tourism industry.
It is about time the "culture of tourism" is embibed by the people of Region 8. One foreign visitor in the Region once commented that Eastern Visayas is "one big tourist spot, I wonder if the people here realize this."
Indeed, there are so many beautiful scenic spots all over the Region but the one real obstacle facing the local tourism industry is not really the low income of the citizenry, but the social obstacle that is related with the lack of awareness and the lack of the culture of tourism among the people. The citizens have no interest in contemplating on and enjoying the beauty of the natural scenes nor do they care about visiting the beautiful scenic spots scattered in the different parts of the Region.
Some people will surely say, how can you talk about tourism while the people are suffering from poor living standards and their income cannot cover their basic necessities and daily expenses? But the reality is even people of high incomes never think of taking a holiday in the historic and fascinating tourist spots in the Region. Believe it or not some have not even visited the park which is right there in the vicinity of their homes.
The problem really is that people are not aware of the importance of tourism, nor are they interested in visiting any tourist site. At this point, the Region has to real work hard on enhancing and spreading the culture of tourism.
All these things must be looked into if Eastern Visayas is to be mainstreamed into the Central Philippines Super Region, the Tourism Capital of the Philippines. (PIA 8) [top]