Koronadal to Host EAGA Tourism Gab

Jul. 14, 2006

KORONADAL CITY — Tourism industry players, airline operators, travel agents and tour operators from all across Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-the Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) are set to converge here for a two-day high-level meeting that aims to promote greater tourism and cross-border traffic in the sub-region.

The 3rd BIMP-EAGA Joint Tourism Development Cluster meeting of the four-country grouping will open here July 17-18, with more than 50 key representatives from the BIMP-EAGA tourism sector set to rally behind a common objective of pushing for a joint tourism marketing and promotions as well as improvement of air services in BIMP-EAGA.

One of the four development clusters created under the BIMP-EAGA structure, the joint tourism development cluster is taking the lead in pursuing strategic tourism industry directions for the sub-region.

Headed by Malaysia, the cluster is composed of key government and private sector tourism stakeholders within the sub-region as it facilitates and coordinates for the implementation of flagship tourism programs and projects identified in the BIMP-EAGA Development Roadmap.

“The Philippines’ hosting of this high-level meeting provides a great opportunity for a good number of Mindanao-Palawan tourism players to take part in the discussion on how to sustain the tourism industry as well as take full advantage of the recent developments in the sub-region,” Tourism Undersecretary Oscar Palabyab, head of delegation of the Philippine-EAGA Joint Tourism Development cluster, said at the coordination meeting for the 3rd BIMP-EAGA JTD Cluster Meeting held Tuesday in Davao City.

On top of the meeting’s agenda is the discussion and presentation on the status of the initiatives to promote BIMP-EAGA as the “Dream DestinASIAN” as well as to improve air connectivity within the growth area.

The meeting will also highlight discussion on other programs and projects such as the development of tour packages anchored on the culture, adventure and nature (CAN) tourism destinations in BIMP-EAGA, promotion of EAGA signature events, establishment of port-to-port air linkages, provision of incentives for airline and shipping operators in BIMP-EAGA and the production of BIMP-EAGA tourism posters that banner the BIMP-EAGA logo.

Meanwhile, a BIMP-EAGA Workshop among airline and tour operators and travel agents will also be held simultaneously on 17 July which aims to come-up with specific tour packages for viable air routes in the sub-region and other tourism marketing strategies for BIMP-EAGA.

Sohura Dimaampao, regional director of the Department of Tourism XII and Mindanao coordinator for BIMP-EAGA Joint Tourism, said that the meeting is both timely and significant for South Central Mindanao as it provides the opportunity for the region to showcase its business and tourism potentials to the BIMP-EAGA counterparts.

Koronadal City will be celebrating its T’nalak Festival on July 12-18 while General Santos City will also be hosting Yaman Mindanao Showcase on 15-17 July 2006.

“This is going to be another milestone achievement not only for Region XII but for the whole of Mindanao and Palawan which are among the active participants in the efforts to push for BIMP-EAGA tourism industry development,” Dimaampao said.

Strengthening tourism and air linkages has been strongly being pushed by the Arroyo administration in line with the effort to revitalize BIMP-EAGA as a key strategy for developing Mindanao and Palawan.

BIMP-EAGA is an economic cooperation created in March 1994 to spur socio-economic growth of participating countries. The sub-regional growth puts emphasis on the individual strengths of member nations in prioritizing much needed interventions.

The region has an estimated population of more than 50 million spread out across 1.5 million square kilometers of land area with strong potentials for tourism, natural resources, SME, transportation, infrastructure and information and communications technology (ICT) development. (MEDCo)

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