BALER, Aurora -- The Provincial Tourism Office (PTO) here has proposed a PHP484.5-million budget for the construction of vital roads leading to the province’s tourist destinations.

PTO chief Michael Palispis cited the need for the new road projects to sustain the province’s robust tourism growth.

“We have an all-time high of over 1.2 million tourist arrivals in 2017 and we are eyeing some 1.35 million tourists conservatively this year. The road networks play key role in promoting tourist spots for sustainable development of the province,” Palispis said.

He said that the PTO has endorsed seven roads to be funded under the Department of Tourism (DOT) – Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) convergence program in order to achieve physical groundwork and connectivity in Central Luzon Tourism Circuit.

These are: the four-kilometer road to Dibutunan Falls in Dipaculao town amounting to PHP120 million; two-kilometer Pingit-Kaneging road project in Baler (PHP60 million); one-kilometer road to Egongot Tribal Village (PHP30 million) and two-kilometer road to Payapas Falls (PHP60 million) both located in Maria Aurora town; 1.55 kilometer road to Mabudo Sanctuary (PHP46.5 million), 3.2 kilometer road to Abuleg-Padeg Falls (PHP96 million) and 2.4 kilometer road to Inipit-Manaring Falls, all in Dinalungan town.

“Once the said projects are approved and completed, our tourists and locals will be having another smoother travel experience on the said areas aside from the white beach destinations in northern Aurora,” Palispis said.

In 2016, DPWH completed the upgrading works of the 16-kilometer Dinadiawan-Casiguran section of Baler-Casiguran road, which leads to Casapsapan Beach in Casiguran town - known for its white sand and crystal clear water.

The Baler-Casiguran road is a national road located in the mid-eastern coast of Luzon in this province and is of strategic importance in the country’s arterial road network.

The improved road will further boost the tourism industry of Casiguran, as well as other parts of Aurora as it will enhance access to Baler town where the province’s primary economic development and emergency centers are located.

A total of PHP231 million was allocated by the DPWH for the completion of the said tourism road project.

The DPWH Region 3 has also completed new bridges along the Baler-Casiguran Road. These are the  Dianed Bridge 1 and 2, and the Simbahan “B” Bridge with combined cost of PHP98.9 million.

 In 2017, the Aurora District Engineering Office (ADEO) of the DPWH completed the construction of various infrastructure projects worth some PHP1.5 billion. (PNA)