P25-million Danao Adventure Park

DANAO, Bohol - Tourism Secretary Joseph “Ace” Durano urged local government units (LGUs) to put up tourism-related facilities that would spur economic activity in their areas.


Given the presence of local and foreign funding institutions—as well as the government and industry support—LGUs have “no excuse” not to invest in tourism-related facilities that would “jumpstart” their economies, he said.

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But he lamented the “lack of appreciation” for the impact of tourism on a community, even at the municipal level, which hinders LGU officials from transforming their resources into tourist attractions.

“Other (leaders), especially those well-traveled, are aware and appreciative of how tourism has helped other countries. Tourism (there) becomes a sustainable way of life that involves the whole community,” Durano said.

He went to Barangay Magtangtang in Danao, Bohol last Thursday to inaugurate the P25-million Danao Adventure Park.

The 60-hectare tourism development is a project of the Municipality of Danao, Bohol—a fourth class municipality located 75 kilometers from capital Tagbilaran City. The park combines extreme, adventure and eco-tourism activities.

Loans

“Danao, Bohol is an example of an LGU with a tourism project.

Any LGU could do it. It is a matter of planning and managing your finances before developing a tourist facility,” Durano said.

He said LGUs can avail themselves of loans from financial institutions, like the Land Bank of the Philippines and the Development Bank of the Philippines.

On the other hand, he said, big tourism investments can enjoy tax incentives once they are proclaimed economic zones.

Danao Mayor Louis Thomas Gonzaga said the local government received financial assistance from the World Bank, Provincial Government and the Department of Tourism (DOT) to develop the Danao Adventure Park. His office is also “seriously considering” having the park declared as an economic zone.

Durano said Danao, Bohol is a beneficiary of a DOT grant through the agency’s Grassroots Entrepreneurs for Ecotourism Livelihood Grant Program.

“Local leadership is indispensable. This is why we now have a policy in DOT where the initiative comes from LGUs. There is high exponential success rate if a project is initiated by LGUs,” he said.

He noted that Danao, Bohol was “not even within the radar of DOT” but its project caught the attention of the National Government and the tourism department.

“With the right leadership, planning and implementation, (an LGU) would be able to attract (additional) funding and create new sources of income for the people and the municipality,” he said during the inauguration of the park.

He cited tourism-related projects by government, including the CamSur Watersports Complex in Camarines Sur and the Pagsanjan Rapids in Laguna.

“In this country, tourism can work anywhere. The success rate of a government-initiated tourism project is when the LGU no longer needs help from DOT,” he said.

Durano also called on LGUs to support the direction of the DOT, which is pushing for more eco-tourism development.

“With our natural environment, our nature-based products are really popular among tourists. Let us look at our natural and cultural assets. Don’t try to be something you are not,” he said.

Friday, July 10, 2009 sunstar.com.ph

By Nancy R. Cudis

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