By Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat
The government is bidding out some of the country’s top tourism assets, including two losing operating properties namely Club Intramuros Golf Course (CIGC) and Balicasag Island Dive Resort (BIDR) in the last quarter of this year.
The Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) Board chaired by the Department of Tourism (DOT) in their meeting held on October 8 (Tuesday) approved the initiation of public biddings for these two assets as well as the minimum financial bid parameters that will be offered to prospective private sector investors.
In a statement, TIEZA said that with the expertise and capital of the private sector, TIEZA hopes to improve these facilities and enhance the operations of the two properties, which have been incurring losses in the past years.
CIGC is one of the oldest golf courses in the Philippines. It is located at the heart of Manila and near government offices, universities, hotels, museums, commercial establishments and identified as the site for a cruise port. It also offers the only night golf in Manila.
BIDR, on the other hand, is the only resort situated in the entire Balicasag island, within the municipality of Panglao Bohol.
The entire island has a total land area of 25 hectares. The resort occupies 1.5 hectares of the island. With its marine sanctuary and five diving sites, the island dive resort is a prime ecotourism destination.
Other notable TIEZA assets also to be offered for privatization include the Banaue Hotel in Ifugao, the Argao Beach Club in Cebu, the Zamboanga Golf Course, and properties in Matabungkay, Batangas, Moalboal, Cebu, and Talisay, Batangas.
The privatization of these operating properties was approved following the Department of Tourism (DOT)-chaired TIEZA opened the agency’s assets to Public-Private Partnership to attract private investments and fast-track tourism.
These series of privatization of the country’s top tourism assets was paved the way following Board’s meeting approving the inclusion of all TIEZA assets and Tourism Enterprise Zone (TEZ) development projects in the Public-Private Cooperation Program (PPCP), adopting Joint Venture and Management Contract as additional modalities for privatization, in support of the agency’s goal to generate more private sector partners.
Last August 29, the TIEZA Board had approved the agency’s own joint venture guidelines (JVG) that will be used to allow private sector participation in the development, operation, management and/or disposition of TIEZA properties and facilities, whether owned, administered or controlled.
TIEZA anticipates that this initiative will increase chances of asset-based investments and promote more inclusive growth across the country, as well as expedite expected developments in Tourism Enterprise Zones (TEZs) through Public-Private Cooperation.
DOT Secretary Bernadette Romulo said that opening TIEZA assets to PPP will help accelerate tourism investments and development of tourism infrastructure in the country, enhancing revenue streams for the agency with less financial exposure of government.
“We want to broaden the scope of privatization as well as provide additional options of modes of contractual arrangements which the local or foreign investors can avail,” TIEZA Chief Operating Officer Pocholo Paragas explained.
Through the proposed JV, TIEZA will retain control and supervision of the assets but will be able to tap on private sector expertise on the day-to-day operations of the assets as well as private sector funding of necessary improvements of the assets.