Representative Rene L. Relampagos of the first district of Bohol, led the House of Representatives Committee on Tourism in a public inquiry on the proposed tourism economic zone (TEZ) located in the municipality of San Vicente, Palawan last June 15-17, 2015.
It can be recalled that, to date, the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) has failed to issue the necessary revenue regulation to implement the provision under â€œThe Tourism Actâ€ (Republic Act No. 9593) on the grant of incentives to TEZs. The municipality of San Vicente, together with other applicants for TEZs, has failed to avail of the benefit under the law despite its passage since 2009.
San Vicente is located in the northwestern side of the main island of Palawan and is 186 kilometres (116Â mi) fromÂ Puerto PrincesaÂ City. It occupies a total land area of 146,294 hectares (361,500 acres).
Touted by local tourism officials as the â€œlongest white beach in the Philippines,â€ theÂ Long BeachÂ of San Vicente straddles 14 kilometers of undeveloped shoreline, more than three times longer than Boracayâ€™s White Beach. The long beach is cut by rocky cliffs extending to the sea resulting to six shorter coves.
The Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) has identified San Vicente, Palawan, as a Flagship TEZ. As such, San Vicente is envisioned to be one of the centers of tourism development in the country which will provide varied Â and integrated tourism and economic facilities and activities that will attract both domestic and foreign investment, generate employment, encourage private-public partnership and ultimately create a multiplier effect from such developments. The area initially declared as tourism zone consists of 883 hectares.
â€œIf Boracayâ€™s beach, which spans for about 4 kilometers, is able to attract 1 million tourists a year, one can easily imagine the enormous potentials of San Vicente. TIEZAâ€™s objective is to complement Boracay. As the number of local and foreign tourists increases, we need to expand and diversify our destinations,â€ notes the congressman.
As the Committee have seen, the proposed San Vicente Airport, complete with terminal, has already been completed. Various tourism structures have already been st in place. San Vicente has been receiving tourists and hopes to increase visitors when it becomes full operational.
The development of San Vicente as a flagship tourism zone which requires the tripartite involvement of DOT-TIEZA, the local government, and the private sector, provides a new model for tourism development. â€œWe hope to replicate this in other areas as well and I am particularly looking at the proposed Loon Tourism Economic Zone in our very own province,â€ he said.
TIEZA notes, â€œWhat counts in the end is not the number of tourists who come to visit us, but how many of our people enjoy a better life because of tourism.â€
With Rep. Relampagos are Reps. Rodel Batocabe, Franz Alvarez and Thelma Almario. They were assisted by the Department of Tourism Region IV office, TIEZA and the House of Representatives Committee on Tourism.
Coinciding with Rep. Relampagosâ€™ visit to the province is the â€œBaragatan Festivalâ€ which brings together the entire Pawalan community to celebrate their history, culture and â€˜togetherness.â€™ Baragatan is derived from the Cuyonon word, â€œbagat,â€ which means to meet or converge. Thus, Baragatan is a coming together of families, friends, officemates, batchmates as well as an opportunity to showcase Palawanâ€™s culture and traditions.
Opening on June 15 with a float parade participated by 17 of the 23 municipalities of the province together with the private sector, the Baragatan Festival will be held for two weeks and will end on June 23, coinciding with the 113th Founding Anniversary of the Civil Government of Palawan. The celebration features Palawan Souvenir Fair, the Agro Trade Fair, Garden Show, Caraenan sa Baragatan (food fair) and the Private Trade Fair, among others. Activities also include conventions, street dancing, talent and sports competitions, fireworks display, debates, pageants and other festivities.