DAVAO CITY -- Local government units in Mindanao have been assured by the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) of national government financial support for tourism development in the form of a share in the annual budget of the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA), an official of the island’s development agency said in a recent statement.

“We can help lobby and push for tourism projects that are feasible for funding by TIEZA,” said Luwalhati R. Antonino, chairperson of MinDA, which holds a seat in the TIEZA board.

Ms. Antonino said TIEZA, which replaced the Philippine Tourism Authority in 2009, has committed to allocate at least 40% of its annual budget until 2016 for projects in Mindanao.

This year, Mindanao is getting P151.963 million, or 47.42%, of TIEZA’s P320.463 million budget.

PRIORITIES Ms. Antonino stressed that proposed projects should provide sustainable livelihood for the community and promote environmental protection.

She cited as an example the P30-million ecotourism facilities on Tawi-Tawi’s Turtle Islands which received P28 million from TIEZA.

“While Mindanao is blessed with natural resources that make ecotourism one of its major economic drivers for growth, tourism development... must not be pursued at the expense of our environment,” Ms. Antonino said.

Some of the ongoing TIEZA-funded projects in Mindanao are the Baywalk in Digos City; a drydock facility on Siargao Island; a World War II landmark in Agusan del Sur; as well as access roads and support facilities for Tinuy-an Falls and the Enchanted River, both in Surigao del Sur.

Last week, MinDA launched its inclusive growth program, which aims to help investors find suitable areas for their capital ventures and link them with local governments.

TIEZA, as an agency attached to the Department of Tourism, is mandated to designate, regulate and supervise the establishment of tourism enterprise zones, as well as develop, manage and supervise tourism infrastructure projects. -- C. Q. Francisco and C. A. Carillo

Source: http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Economy&title=Mindanao-assured-of-tourism-funds&id=90426