Mindanao, Palawan Key Players in Southeast Asia’s Sustainable Development

Last Updated on December 27, 2019 by Lamudi

Two zones in the Philippines will have significant roles in the sustainable development of Southeast Asia.

The Department of Tourism (DOT) championed Palawan and Mindanao specifically as key destinations reflecting the diverse Asian culture and promoting economic growth. This happened during the 2nd Budayaw Festival in the City of Kuching in the Federal State of Sarawak, Malaysia, as reported by the Philippine News Agency (PNA).

According to its official website, Budayaw Festival is an event that aims to improve relations within the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) region through a celebration of its cultural diversity and heritage. 

The name came from a play of two native words, the Bahasa “budaya,” referring to culture, and the Filipino “dayaw,” meaning good or beautiful. Taken together, Budayaw is a festival honoring the beautiful cultures of the member-countries.

The recently held festival ran for five days, covering different activities, including concerts, visual arts exhibits, a fashion show, and a trade and travel fair. There was also a culinary showcase, where chefs from the four member-states prepared dishes unique to their respective cultures. 

Lectures on Cultural and Economic Exchanges

Experts held lectures about the cultural and economic exchanges happening in the region. They aim to increase the level of appreciation and knowledge of students, educators, and media practitioners.

Aside from the festive activities, representatives of the member-states also gathered to talk about the plan to partner with public and private stakeholders within the region. Delegates from the Philippines ought to push for stronger marketing initiatives for tourism in Mindanao regions 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, and Palawan. 

The team also discussed some plans with the Sarawak Tourism Board, the tourism marketing arm of Malaysia’s Ministry of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports. The Philippine delegates floated the idea of sisterhood agreements with localities in Northern Mindanao and direct flights between Kuching City and Davao City. Increased accessibility in major gateways will improve regional development cooperation among the BIMP-EAGA member-countries.

The representatives in the talks included DOT Assistant Secretary Myra Paz Valderrosa-Abubakar and Adel Suemith of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), as well as DOT region 10 director Marie Elaine Salvaña-Unchuan and Tanya Rabat-Tan of region 11.

State of Tourism

Palawan and Mindanao have enjoyed promising growth in terms of tourist arrivals in the past years. The former saw over 1.8 million visitors in 2018, a number significantly higher than 2017, which is only 1.4 million, Palawan Daily News reported. The local government said that a greater portion of the tourist arrivals was domestic. Foreign visitors, meanwhile, were mostly Koreans, Americans, Chinese, Taiwanese, and French. 

The province’s capital, Puerto Princesa City, is among the safest places to live in the country, having recorded a low crime rate. This, along with the beautiful beaches and world-renowned natural wonders found on the island, is what entices people to visit.

Mindanao welcomes an influx of tourists as well. Sunstar reported that Davao accommodated 2.2 million visitors in the first half of 2019. It was a notable increase of 26 percent, compared to the same period in 2018. The arrivals pumped a total of P27.3 billion receipts, a 26.38 percent growth from the P21.6 billion from the previous year. The top foreign markets in Davao included the United States, China, Japan, Korea, and the United Kingdom.

Other Mindanao destinations that are increasingly becoming tourist favorites include Siargao in Surigao del Norte, Dapitan in Zamboanga del Norte, Mati in Davao Oriental, and Camiguin.

Infrastructure Boom

Local governments recognize that the continued infrastructure development program in Mindanao and Palawan contributed to the boom of tourism in the respective areas. In Palawan, the expansion of its international airport made a huge impact on accommodating more tourists. According to Rappler, the new terminal has a floor area of 13,000 square meters, with 1,500 available seats and parking slots for more than 200 cars. Its runway can hold larger aircraft like the Airbus A330 that has a seating capacity of 400. 

As for future projects, Palawan is among the provinces that will have a revitalized tourism infrastructure, as approved by the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA), Business World reported.

Meanwhile, Mindanao is one of the big beneficiaries of the Build, Build, Build program. The construction and rehabilitation of key seaports in the region helped improve accessibility. Among these projects are the country’s biggest passenger terminal building at Cagayan de Oro Port, Opol Port in Misamis Oriental, Sasa Port in Davao, and Butuan Port in Agusan del Norte. 

As for future developments, there’s the Mindanao Railway Project and Mindanao Road Network, linking major locations in the region.

Sources: Philippine News Agency, Budayaw, Palawan Daily News, Sunstar, Rappler, Business World


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