BREAKING GROUND. Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco leads the embedding of the capsule during the groundbreaking ceremony of the Tourist Service Center and Rest Area (TSCRA) in Barangay Peñaplata, Samal City, Davao del Norte on Friday (Oct. 7, 2022). The tourist pit stop will have an information kiosk, pasalubong center, restrooms, and resting space for visitors. (PNA photo by Che Palicte)

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – The Department of Tourism (DOT) on Friday began the construction of Tourist Service Centers and Rest Areas (TSCRAs) in the provinces of Bukidnon and Davao del Norte.

Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco and Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (Tieza) Chief Operating Officer Mark Lapid led the ceremonies.

The TSCRAs will soon rise in Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon and Samal City, Davao del Norte.

Manolo Fortich Mayor Rogelio Quiño said his town is considered the "gateway" of Bukidnon and such infrastructure would promote the townspeople’s livelihood.

"We have an average of 6,000 tourists coming into our province monthly," he said.

A memorandum of agreement was also signed by the DOT, Tieza, and Bukidnon officials to strengthen tourism projects.

The PHP7 million TSCRA to be erected In Samal City will be the first in Southern Mindanao, and one of the 10 pioneering tourist rest areas in Mindanao.

"We intend to put this kind of project all over the country because tourism will help the country in the recovery of our economy," Frasco said.

She said tourism is one of the major economic pillars after the pandemic.

"Samal is one of the key destinations in the country. We will open the tourism in Mindanao as a manifestation of our seriousness to fully open Mindanao to tourism," Frasco said.

She added that TSCRAs are intended to provide an enhanced tourism experience for tourists coming to the island.

Tourist pit stops will have an information kiosk, a pasalubong center, restrooms, and a resting area for visitors.

"We see to it that it is a convenient place for tourists to rest, access to vital information, and world-class bathrooms," Frasco said.

Lapid noted that the project is targeted for completion in December this year.

"This will provide seamless travel in tourism destinations here," he added.

Samal Mayor Al David Uy said the location of the TSCRA is strategic as it is near a public market, police station, and terminal.

"You can find everything here, it is a one-stop shop for tourists," he said, adding that the project would be “very important” as the Samal-Davao connector bridge has already been green-lighted.

With a length of 3.9 km., the PHP23-billion connector bridge is expected to become a vital link for the cities of Davao and Samal through reduced transport costs and a faster flow of people, goods, and resources. (PNA)