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PIA Press Release

DOT prepares East Coast for Pacific-rim highway

by RG Alama

Davao City (17 October) -- From being the most inaccessible frontier not just of the province but of the whole Region, the Department of Tourism is gearing up the six Pacific municipalities of Davao Oriental into a major attraction with the planned construction of the Surigao-Davao Pacific Rim (SudoParim) highway.

Part of the big-ticket priority infrastructure projects of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo under her Mindanao Mega-Region development blue-print, the Sudoparim highway is expected to connect the coastal towns of Surigao del Sur and Davao Oriental provinces which at present are suffering from the poor-state of its road network.

The Department of Tourism Region XI has anticipated this development by preparing Davao Oriental's pacific towns collectively known as East Coast into harnessing its natural and man-made wonders for tourism development.

"East Coast contains one of the most beautiful beaches and mangrove areas, I am confident that when the highway opens everyone will come, including the tourists." said DOT XI Regional Director Sonia Garcia.

Garcia rues that despite the beauty of the East Coast it is very inaccessible owing to the poor road network. " The place should not just be for Lonely Planet ( a travel publication catering to the more adventurous backpacking tourists)." she said.

Garcia envisions that the highway would attract people including domestic tourists to the area, which boasts of historical and cultural landmarks and natural wonders like beaches and forests.

Tarragona, has ethnic Kalagan villages and driftwood furniture as its attractions, Caraga boasts of one of Mindanao's oldest churches. Manay's coastline has clear aqua-blue waters, Boston has rare Pine forests while Baganga possesses one of the country's most beautiful beaches and mangrove forests and Cateel has its wonderful mountains and waterfalls.

To prepare for the eventual opening of the highway the DOT team led by Dir. Garcia along with officials from the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) conducted the survey of the East Coast municipalities to assess the tourism potentials.

It will also be conducting tourism seminars, one of which will be held in the said municipalities focusing on hosting and homestay program. Various tourism councils have been formed with many members coming from eateries/ carinderia and lodging houses owners. Garcia said that tourists needed good lodging, food establishments and clean restrooms.

The Sangguniang Kabataan has also been utilized to trailblaze into potential but relatively unexplored wonders, which East Coast has plenty of. Next month a tourism workshop of the East Coast municipalities will be held in Baganga.

Garcia said that what they're doing is the gradual opening up of the towns with its wealth of historical and cultural wonders. (PIA XI) [top]

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