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DOT lauds PPP framework for Tourist Rest Area in Carmen, Cebu

The Department of Tourism (DOT) cites the newly inaugurated Tourist Rest Area in Carmen, Cebu as an “ideal” public-private partnership framework, noting that the collaboration among the DOT, the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA), the local government unit of Carmen, and the Cebu Safari and Adventure Park is a first step toward building more important tourist facilities by way of working together.

In her message during the inauguration ceremony, Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco noted the “unique” arrangement of the said TRA which she added can be a benchmark for the other TRAs that are being built across the country.

“We are grateful because this TRA here in Carmen is unique in that a few days ago, the Municipality of Carmen approved a MOA with the Cebu Safari, represented here by COO Eduard Loop. Cebu Safari will operate the TRA in partnership with the LGU, and this public-private partnership shall serve as a benchmark for other TRAs in the country as truly it is only by way of our collaboration and convergence can we continue to progress all over the country,” enthused the tourism chief.

Under the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) entered into by the parties concerned, the LGU of Carmen and the Cebu Safari and Adventure Park will jointly oversee the operations of the TRA with the latter taking a more active role in the hiring of required personnel for the operation, management, maintenance, conservation, and security of the TRA as well as supplying the utilities such as water, electricity, and telecommunications requirements for the facility.

In his message, Carmen Mayor Mariano T. Villamor said that the TRA will enhance the visitor experience for the more than 14,000 guests who visit their town every month. Located some 40 kilometers from Cebu City, the municipality of Carmen is home to the famous “Carmen empanada” and “Carmen lechon”. It also boasts an array of eco-tourism sites and natural wonders such as cold springs, caves, and waterfalls.

“I would like to express my deepest gratitude to Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco for this TRA and your unwavering support and dedication to the development of tourism not just in our region but in the entire country. Without your vision and your tireless efforts, these Tourist Rest Areas would not have become a reality. The Tourist Rest Area is not just a physical space or building; it represents our collective dedication to making Cebu the premier tourist destination in the entire country,” said Mayor Villamor.

Located in Carmen, the Cebu Safari & Adventure Park is the premier Safari park in the country.

According to its website, “It serves as a sanctuary for hundreds of different species of plants and animals. This over 170-hectare property features more than a thousand animals from 120 different species, aiming to provide world-class fun, learning, and entertainment to all its guests and be a sanctuary for flora and fauna and a retreat for guests to commune and harmonize with the environment.”

“We express our sincerest gratitude to the DOT for this much-needed initiative. The facility is a comfortable place that will help tourists get the information they need and also guide them on attractions and activities not only in Carmen but in the 5th District (of Cebu). It is also a one-stop-shop that will showcase the different delicacies the district has to offer which will help promote local businesses,” added Eduard Loop, the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the park.

Cebu Province to build Tourist Rest Areas in Cebu towns, sister cities 

Meanwhile, Secretary Frasco thanked the Cebu Provincial government for its commitment to build at least six TRAs in Cebu Province, and its sister cities.

During the inauguration of the TRA in the Municipality of Carmen, Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia announced that construction is underway for the TRAs that will be built in the towns of Santander, Pinamungahan, Dumanjug, and Bogo City, and one each for its sister cities of Albay and in Zamboanga Sibugay. The provincial government will shoulder the costs of construction.

“This is a much-needed infrastructure and only a woman with an eye for detail and passion for those that are her responsibilities would understand that these TRAs were precisely what we needed to promote tourism. Maraming salamat because we really, really need this and only Secretary Christina could have thought of this. Congratulations, Secretary Christina, such a job well done,” said the governor.

The TRAs are established to improve the overall tourism experience by providing tourists basic services and amenities such as an information center, clean restrooms, a lounge and charging stations, a dining area, and pasalubong centers, to make their travel more pleasant, experiential, and worthwhile. It also serves as a venue to highlight Filipino artistry through the display of local products and the adoption of local materials and elements in its building design.

“We are hopeful that with the example set by the province of Cebu in supporting the Tourist Rest Areas of the DOT and the Marcos administration, this can be replicated all over the country,” added the tourism chief.

Earlier, Secretary Frasco announced that the DOT, in collaboration with the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA), the agency’s infrastructure arm, plans to build 18 more TRAs in strategic locations across the country.

“So popular has been the reception of these Tourist Rest Areas and so well-received by our tourism industry stakeholders, that LGUs themselves are requesting for it. In addition to the 10 that we have already constructed, we are adding 18 more Tourist Rest Areas all the way from Batanes to Tawi-Tawi next year,” confirmed the tourism Chief.

Secretary Frasco also expressed her gratitude to her home Province of Cebu for its overwhelming support as all cities and municipalities have adopted the Love the Philippines tourism branding campaign of the DOT saying, “I thank you for your love and support. To me personally, this has given me courage, strength, and the continued will and determination to ensure that we take the benefits of tourism as far and wide as possible so we can continue to announce to the world all the reasons to Love the Philippines,” Secretary Frasco added.



Published:December 19, 2023

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