More TRAs to bring more tourists for PH – PBBM

May 18, 2024 People's Tonight 161 views

PRESIDENT Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. is expecting more tourists to visit the Philippines if the country has more ‘Tourist Rest Areas’ (TRAs).

The construction of TRAs us part of President Marcos’ infrastructure development program in the countryside to intensify the government’s tourism thrust.

The President has just inaugurated the TRA in Saud, Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte, the first of its kind in Northern Luzon. It is expected to attract more visitors to Ilocos Region.

Each TRA is equipped with tourist information and assistance center, restrooms, breastfeeding station, charging and work station with internet connection, rest area, automated teller machine (ATM), dining area, pasalubong center which features locally-made products sourced from the locals.

As of April this year, there are eight TRAs that were completed, inaugurated and turned over to the local governments of Roxas, Palawan, Medelin Cebu, Carmen, Cebu, Carcar, Cebu, Moalboal, Cebu, Dauis, Bohol, Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon, and island Garden City of Samal,Davao Del Norte.

Prior to this, at least 22 additional TRAs have been identified to be already serving local and foreign tourists Bulacan, Sultan Kudarat, Negros Occidental, Camarines Sur, Surigao Del Norte, Palawan, Antique, Iloilo, Guimaras, Albay, Batangas, Camarines Sur, Leyte, Eastern Samar, Mountain Province, Pangasinan, Batanes, Bohol, Tawi-Tawi, Misamis Oriental, Sulu, and Zamboanga.

The President said the TRAs will be significant for the country’s bid to become a tourism powerhouse in Asia. According to him, the government is eyeing a 10-fold increase in tourist arrivals from the original Balikbayan program.

“Ang ambisyon natin doon one million tourists. That was the ambition. One million tourists can come back. And then kasama na doon ‘yung mga overseas Filipinos. Kaya nagkaroon ng balikbayan box dahil hindi binubuwisan,” President Marcos said.

“Now, we are targeting 10 times that. And we have started to approach that. But there are many aspects to tourism. It’s not just the beautiful beach. It’s not just the beautiful rest house or the nice hotels and the resorts that they stay in,” he added.

The Philippines’ Balikbayan Program was enacted in November 1989 to attract and encourage overseas Filipinos to visit the Philippines.

But to achieve such goal, the President said the government must build infrastructures and facilities to ensure ease in traveling and tourists’ easier access to the country’s top destinations.

The present government’s focus is to improve regional gateways so that tourists visiting the country could go directly to regional destinations without transiting Manila, he noted.

“So, like in Cebu, you already have that facility. People can travel from abroad directly to Cebu,” President Marcos pointed out.

“We will make it so that people will travel from abroad directly to Laoag, directly to Bohol, directly to CDO, directly to Tacloban. All of these other places that we want to promote as tourist destinations,” he stressed.

Last year, Ilocos Norte accounted for more than 20 percent of tourist arrivals in Region 1.

It received more than 3.5 million same-day visitors in 2023. Around 515,000 domestic and foreign tourists stayed longer in hotels and resorts, according to DOT Regional Office 1 in Ilocos Norte.

The Philippines has a baseline target of 7.7 million arrivals this year. PCO