A former undersecretary of the Department of Tourism (DOT) who hails from this capital city on Wednesday said he is now mapping out wide-scale plans for Negros Oriental province as the new governor intensifies efforts to boost local tourism. Woodrow 'RR' Maquiling Jr. said in a press briefing that the province is now 'back in business' after the Covid-19 pandemic, with Governor Manuel 'Chaco' Sagarbarria determined to push the province's tourism sector, first by activating Ordinance No. 55, series of 2017, for the creation of the Tourism Board. The Tourism Board is chaired by the governor who appointed Maquiling as the executive director and concurrent chair of the Negros Oriental Tourism Council. 'This sends a positive signal not just across the province but across the country, in fact, that Negros Oriental is now back in business and is open again for tourism, trade, and travel,' Maquiling said. In the coming weeks, the team will be finalizing a tourism portfolio with the governor giving a list of priority projects, he added. First is the revival of the Sidlakang Negros Village, which used to be an area where local government units (LGU) can showcase their respective tourism destinations, local culture and heritage, among others. The Ninoy Aquino Freedom Park, fronting the Capitol, is also next in line, with efforts to rehabilitate or improve its current state, with some PHP20 million in funding from the national government that was previously handed down to the Degamo administration. Also, different sectors such as the association of hotels, resorts, and restaurants, the Negros Oriental Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the dive groups, have already committed to helping the province, he added. Maquiling, who served as DOT undersecretary during the administration of then President Rodrigo Duterte, said he has already touch-based with various networks here and abroad to help ramp up the province's tourism industry. He vowed more 'exciting events' not just in this provincial capital but elsewhere in the province in the coming months in what he and the governor have dubbed as an 'inclusive' way forward to healing and unity. Maquiling was referring to the recent tragic events that marred the province's peace and order and security, specifically, the assassination of Gov. Roel Degamo, where nine other people died, and previous killings that remain unsolved to this day.
Source: Philippines News Agency