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Recently elected Manila Mayor Isko Moreno expressed his hopes to revive Manila’s tourism and cultural heritage. In a report last July, Moreno is said to have been planning to develop a “tourism circuit” that connects heritage sites located in Manila. The said circuit will connect Intramuros to sites like the National Museum, Rizal Park, and Binondo, among many others.
As a result, Department of Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat has asked the following offices attached to the DOT to work closely with the office of Mayor Isko: Intramuros Administration (IA), Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zones Authority (TIEZA), and the National Parks Development Committee (NPDC).
Per Secretary Puyat on DOT’s official website, “A strong and active partnership with the local government units (LGUs) can only help advance the government’s sustainable tourism development that aims to preserve and protect not only the country’s many natural tourist attractions but also its rich cultural heritage and historical sites.”
As mentioned in a separate article, Puyat also said, “Manila is the crucible of Philippine history and culture and the primary gateway to the country’s 7,641 island destinations. And we at the DOT share the vision and enthusiasm of Mayor Moreno in providing our international visitors a great first impression of the Philippines as soon as they set foot in Manila.”
In a report from Rappler, Mayor Moreno had already met with officials of the two agencies, IA and TIEZA, last July 5 to discuss plans on how to go about the development of Manila’s tourism.
Intramuros Administrator Guiller Asido pledged to fix the Lawton-Intramuros Underpass by September this year. It was also agreed between Asido and Moreno that businesses operating in Intramuros should secure their operation permits with the IA first before the Manila City Hall.
According to Secretary Puyat, “Tourism is a major driver for economic development in the country. Two of the attached agencies of the DOT are located in Manila — IA and NPDC. IA’s current thrusts are focused on the urban regeneration of the district through conservation, heritage and tourism. For the past two years, considerable developments have been made.”
TIEZA Chief Operating Officer Pocholo Paragas, on the other hand, committed for the agency to: 1) put new signboards on all tourist destinations in Manila, including the 47 public parks; 2) study the rehabilitation of the raised Philippine relief map in Rizal Park; 3) study the re-development of the Children’s Park located in Rizal Park; 4) installation of lights and pedestrian lanes within the walls of Intramuros, and; 5) fix the lighting at the Club Intramuros Golf Course. Paragas also asked to relocate the informal settlers that are living along the fence of the famous golf course.
No meeting has been reported between Mayor Isko and the NPDC. But it was said by the DOT that the NPDC, with the help of TIEZA, is in charge of the rehabilitation of the Rizal Park, mainly the Esplanade and the Children’s Park.
Secretary Puyat also expressed her gratitude towards Mayor Isko for his initiative in pushing for the preservation of Manila’s historical sites and cultural hubs, which is in line with the Duterte Administration’s campaign for sustainable development. She added that sustainable tourism is also evident in urban areas, and is not limited to beaches.
“We see the City Government of Manila as an active partner and advocate in the promotion of sustainable tourism in the country. Sustainable Tourism isn’t limited to our beaches, but also in the urban area as well,” says Secretary Puyat in an article found on DOT’s official website.
In addition to the topic of rehabilitating Manila, Secretary Puyat says: “Being the capital city, we believe that Manila can be a template for sustainable tourism development in an urban setting. This can be done through Mayor Isko’s efforts of reclaiming public spaces, parks, resolving traffic, deployment of police, and provision of basic services. Going back to the basics to encourage visitors not to skip Manila in their itinerary.”