In a significant stride towards enhancing tourism development in Mindanao, the Department of Tourism (DOT), under the leadership of Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco, officially inaugurated the first Tourist Rest Area (TRA) in the region. The ceremony took place in the picturesque town of Manolo Fortich in Bukidnon province on Friday, August 4, marking another milestone in the DOT’s commitment to bolster tourism infrastructure nationwide.

This inauguration follows the recent unveiling of the first TRA in Medellin, Cebu, and signifies the DOT’s dedication to providing well-equipped facilities that contribute to the overall comfort and satisfaction of tourists.

The newly inaugurated TRA in Manolo Fortich boasts several amenities aimed at enhancing the overall tourist experience, including an information center, a lounge with charging stations, a coffee shop, clean restrooms with showers, and a lactation room for breastfeeding mothers. Additionally, a pasalubong center showcases local products from Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), featuring renowned Bukidnon coffee, beaded items from T’boli tribes, and various artworks by local painters and leaf carvers that add vibrancy to the facility.

The inauguration ceremony was attended by key officials, including TIEZA Chief Operating Officer Mark Lapid, Bukidnon Governor Rogelio Neil Roque, Vice Governor Clive Quiño, Mayor Rogelio Quiño, Vice Mayor Reynaldo Bagayas, Jr., 4th District Representative Laarni Lavin Roque, DOT Undersecretaries Shahlimar Hofer Tamano and Ferdinand Jumapao, and Regional Director Marie Elaine Unchuan. The event featured a symbolic key turnover to the local government unit (LGU) and the ceremonial hanging of a leaf art created by local artist Wilmar Sumahoy, symbolizing the DOT’s unwavering commitment to enhancing the overall tourist experience.

In her address, Secretary Frasco emphasized that the establishment of the TRA is in line with President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.’s directive to improve the country’s tourism infrastructure and enhance the overall tourist experience. “This Tourist Rest Area is one of the ten that are already under construction, some of which have been completed all over the country. We have a Tourist Rest Area in Ilocos Norte, Baguio City, several in Cebu, in Bohol, Palawan, Samal Island, Davao del Norte, and now here in Manolo Fortich,” announced Secretary Frasco.

The TRA in Bukidnon is strategically located to cater to tourists traveling to and from the municipalities of Manolo Fortich, Impasug-ong, Sumilao, and Libona. Governor Roque expressed his gratitude, stating, “Bukidnon’s tourism potential has barely been scratched. Today, we wish to express our special thanks to Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco and the Department of Tourism for giving us this tourist service center and rest area. This infrastructure project will be a great asset to the development of Bukidnon’s tourism industry.”

Mayor Quiño added, “Manolo Fortich will continue giving wonders and inspiration to tourists as [having] the only aerial, music, arts, and food festival in the country. As we support President Marcos’ economic agenda to boost the tourism industry, we commit that this tourist rest area shall be well-maintained and one with the best-managed tourist rest areas in the Philippines.”

The DOT has ten TRAs currently under construction, with fifteen more scheduled to break ground this year, reflecting the department’s commitment to countrywide development and progress through tourism.

On the sidelines of the inauguration, Secretary Frasco met with Bukidnon-based tourism frontline workers to extend tourism-related assistance. The Kalasanen Mountaineering Club (KMC) received Basic mountaineering training and livelihood kits worth P300,000 for mountain activities for tourists. Fifteen DOT-accredited tour guides also received essential tour guiding kits to support their work in telling the Filipino story.

Secretary Frasco expressed her gratitude to the tourism industry workers, stating, “Tourism is for the benefit of Filipino families. Every time you buy a pasalubong, book a hotel, ride a tourism transport, or visit our local destinations, you help a Filipino family in the tourism industry.”

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