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Friday, March 13, 2009

LGUs must reap benefits of new tourism law

Local Government Units (LGUs) must reap the big benefits of the tourism bill as soon as President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo signs it into law, Independent Senator Richard J. Gordon said today.

Gordon, chairman of the Senate tourism committee, issued the call as he urged them to take full advantage of the tourism bill since it provides for the establishment of tourism enterprise zones across the country, thereby boosting domestic tourism.

"The governors of our provinces should now begin looking at contiguous beaches and other areas that are suited as tourism enterprise zones. They should, this early, figure out how to handle the influx of people asking about how to go about investing in tourism enterprises in their province," he said..

Gordon explained that the entire tourism industry should make haste in preparing to lure investments in Philippine tourism by identifying areas that are ripe to receive investments, such as Pangasinan, Bohol, Palawan, Samar, Leyte, and other areas.

"When investors come here, we can present them with a menu from which they can pick an area for tourism investment and make it easy for them to set up their businesses," he said.

Gordon, a former tourism secretary, added that a boost in tourism would mean that more jobs would be generated and would result to an increase not only in the employment rate but also in the revenues of LGUs.

He also pointed out that LGUs would take a major role in developing these zones, which would be established to entice foreign investors and tourists to visit places rich with history and culture.

The bill also aims to enhance the capabilities of LGUs in administering tourism activities and enforcing tourism laws through support and training programs from the Tourism Department.

"Once we establish these tourism enterprise zones, the local governments would have a big role in its development. They would also be the ultimate beneficiaries of this program because it will not only boost local tourism, but also increase their revenues," Gordon said.

"The key to a successful implementation of this measure is through a concerted effort between the national government and the LGUs," he added.

Gordon said the targets for the tourism enterprise zones are Cebu, Davao, Bohol, Laguna, Cavite, Boracay, Palawan and Iloilo, which could be developed into a haven for tourists.

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