DOT 10 Regional Director Marie Elaine S. Unchuan represented the Philippines as the Head of the Philippine Delegation in the 18th Brunei Darussalam– Indonesia–Malaysia–Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) Joint Tourism Development Cluster (JTDC) Meeting in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, Wednesday, 24 August 2022.
Director Unchuan presented the report Philippines-EAGA which covers the whole island of Mindanao and the province of Palawan. She discussed that for the cluster, DOT Philippines is focused on three BIMP-EAGA tourism sector priorities namely tourism access and support infrastructure development, ecotourism product development, and the promotion of coordinated approaches to nature, culture, and heritage management.
” Here in the Philippines, our Department of Tourism, with Sec. Frasco’s blessing, is keen on pushing for the development of Halal or Muslim-friendly Tourism. Especially here in Mindanao and Palawan, being part of BIMP-EAGA, we feel like we would miss out on so many opportunities for connectivity if we do not give our Muslim brothers and sisters the proper hospitality they are owed, ” Dir. Unchuan said.
In her discussion, she introduced some of the projects of the DOT Mindanao cluster, headed by the Office of the Undersecretary Myra Paz Valderrosa-Abubakar. These projects include the Turtle Islands Eco-Halal tourism development and Zamboanga connectivity circuit; BIMP-EAGA Dive initiatives; Mindanao Halal Culinary Tourism product development; promotion of the Colors of Mindanao campaign, Halal awareness initiatives as support for Halal or Muslim- friendly cuisines and festivals; tourism promotions, connectivity, and capability enhancement with BARMM; enhancement or development of festival celebrations as part of the initiatives for the development of BIMP-EAGA Community-Based Ecotourism; and the proposal for the BIMP- EAGA Mindanao International Travel Festival.
Indonesia, the new Chair of the BIMP-EAGA, mentioned being very keen on exploring Dive Tourism as well as being very thankful for the Philippines’ focus on Halal Tourism Development. On the other hand, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) commended the Colors of Mindanao campaign for its diversity of products presented in a very cohesive theme.
” I hope that next year, when it’s the Philippines turn to host, we can show you all that we have been doing and all that we have accomplished towards this goal,” Unchuan added.
The next cluster meeting will be in Zamboanga in 2023.