The construction of a Tourist Rest Area (TRA) aims to address basic infrastructure needs of the country’s tourism industry and make the Philippines globally competitive especially in the ASEAN market, Secretary Ma. Christina Garcia-Frasco of the Department of Tourism said during the groundbreaking ceremony of the TRA in Barangay San Nicolas, Roxas last Friday, February 17.

Garcia-Frasco said the construction of TRAs is in line with improvements in tourism services based on the objectives of the department towards in line with its seven visions for tourism development which includes infrastructure, connectivity, internet, enhancement of overall tourist experience, establishment of tourist call centers, expansion and equal tourism promotion and development and diversified tourism product portfolio.

She said infrastructure development needs to be done to ensure sustainability of tourist destinations while connectivity in airports and seaports serves as the first and last impression of tourists, and thus needs to be improved and expanded.

For the enhanced overall tourist experience, a tourist’s lifestyle app is being developed to address every aspect of a tourist’s journey, to provide tourists a convenient way to access information about destinations and tourist call centers is where visitors can access and connect to our regional offices and LGUS across

“Equal tourism promotion and development on the other hand will give opportunities for lesser-known destinations equal opportunities to develop and get promoted,” Frasco said.

“Aside from promoting major beach destinations, we are also expanding in a way that we will also aggressively promote other strengths including English as a second language, food tourism, Halal, as well as health and wellness tourism,” she added.

Meanwhile, MIMAROPA Regional Director Asuzena Pallugna said the TRA is the 10th flagship facility that will be constructed throughout the country. She said the facility was conceptualized by Secretary Ma. Christina Garcia-Frasco during her recent visit to different provinces under her Listening Tour program.

She said that the P7 million-worth TRA will be constructed in partnership with the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA). The facility includes a souvenir shop or pasalubong center, an accommodation and restrooms will be managed by the Local Government Unit once completed at “the soonest possible time within this year.”

She further explained that the area was chosen as it is located at the middle between Puerto Princesa City and the and the towns of El Nido, San Vicente and Taytay.

“So apat na tourist destinations ang mase-serve nito,” she said.

TIEZA Chief Operating Officer Mark Lapid added that while there are already 10 TRAs, there are 10 other facilities to be constructed and more depending on the need.

“I hope that we can also put up in other areas like Coron and other destinations, ” said Lapid.

He explained that all TRAs will have the same structural design except for the interior where there might be some changes depending on the location.

“Magkakaroon lang ng konting pagbabago yan kung halimbawa in a certain area, there is some cultural insertion but that will be on the finishing side na and bahala na si LGU mag-insert. Kasi meron kaming Mindanao area, merong Ilocos, Baguio, so yung cultural diversity natin, ini-insert na lang on the interior side. But basically on the exterior, it’s more the same,” he said.

Lapid also stated that if the Local Government Unit will be able to maintain the facility, they will receive some sort of incentives from the DOT.

“Because building or constructing the project is easy but the real problem would be maintaining it. That’s why we created an agreement with the LGU for a mechanism on how we can maintain it and then we are trying to encourage a private partnership with whoever wants to enter into a concession agreement with the LGU,” he explained.