The Philippine Star
Foreign funders offer loans for tourism dev’t
Multilateral lending agencies are willing to finance the development of the Philippine tourism sector through loans, the Department of Tourism (DOT) said.
On the sidelines of the “Meet You in Iloilo” campaign launch, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said the agency is set to meet with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) this week
to discuss a loan for infrastructure and livelihood projects in Coron and El Nido in Palawan.
This is part of the DOT’s Transforming Communities towards Resilient, Inclusive and Sustainable Tourism (TouRIST) program, which aims to be a vehicle to implement a coordinated effort between the various government organizations and instrumentalities and realize sustainable tourism development.
“What we will do with the ADB fund is we will provide the sewerage system. We will be the ones to make the local infrastructure,” Puyat said.
Apart from the ADB, Puyat said the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) also approached her for a possible tourism loan grant.
“And then USAID already approached us. Then the other day also KOICA – “Why aren’t you coming to us, we want to help you in tourism,” Puyat said. “It’s a good problem,” Puyat added.
The tourism chief said the Korean government is eyeing Puerto Princesa in Palawan as a targeted area for the loan grant.
“They want Puerto Princesa which makes sense because of the airport,” Puyat said.
In 2012, the Philippines was able to obtain a $71 million loan from the Export-Import Bank of Korea (KEXIM) for the upgrade and development of the Puerto Princesa Airport.
The World Bank Group earlier made available $300 million for the program, particularly for the areas of Bohol, Siargao, Siquijor, Davao City and Samal Island, as part of the TouRIST program.
“World Bank chose it based on the tourism demand of cities... Because of increasing tourist demand they need capital and local infrastructure,” Puyat said.
The five TouRIST sites were selected because of the rapid increase in tourism demand, potential for future development, lack of financing to address emerging capital investment needs, rich cultural heritage sites and biodiversity and socioeconomic impact for poverty alleviation.
“With the support of the World Bank, we will enhance tourism infrastructure, livelihood, disaster risk reduction and crisis management and tourism policy and regulation,” Puyat said.
The TouRIST program of the DOT will be supervised by the Tourism Coordinating Council (TCC).
It added that a proposed technical mission schedule for the five targeted destinations is set for this month.
Tourism Undersecretary Benito Bengzon earlier said that the TCC expressed their support for the DOT’s new projects, such as the TouRIST program.
“We are elated that the members of the council are unanimous in expressing their continued support to the aforecited projects and initiatives of the department,” Bengzon earlier said.