THE Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) approved almost P4 billion in tourism infrastructure projects in November, bringing its 2019 total to P5 billion.

TIEZA in a statement said that it approved during a November board meeting projects for creating sustainable tourism, rehabilitating cultural and historical sites, and improving visitor experiences in Benguet, Palawan, Iloilo, Pampanga, and Pangasinan.

“Our tourism infrastructure is a work in progress. We need to develop and build better facilities to ensure that our local and foreign tourists will continue to enjoy our beautiful destinations without compromising environmental sustainability,” TIEZA Chief Operating Officer Pocholo Joselito D. Paragas said.

He said that the new investments are intended to create jobs in local communities and ensure sustainability at each site.

“The approved projects were recommended by the TIEZA Infrastructure Committee to the Board after careful evaluation and various consultations with different LGUs and regional tourism officials, as well as with concerned stakeholders in the respective areas.”

Big-ticket projects include P400 million for the rehabilitation of the Burnham Lake and Children’s Park in Baguio, to improve its “recreational appeal and tourist value.”

The infrastructure arm of the Department of Tourism allocated P854 million for Palawan, to construct a wastewater treatment facility, modular floating docks, and solar streetlights in Coron; build modular floating docks in Puerto Princesa; and create housing for hyberbaric chamber facilities for the use of the diving communities in El Nido and Coron.

“While we want to boost tourism investment and revenue in our island destinations, we also want to protect our natural resources. We are investing P500 million for the Coron Wastewater Treatment Facility to prevent water pollution that is detrimental to coastal and marine resources,” Mr. Paragas said.

TIEZA also approved P135 million to rehabilitate three plazas in Iloilo — Arevalo, Molo, and La Paz plazas. It is investing P83 million for the reconstruction of San Agustin Church and San Guillermo Church in Pampanga.

TIEZA earlier this year approved P1.2 billion in tourism infrastructure projects, including the rehabilitation of the Chocolate Hills complex. — Jenina P. Ibañez