The provincial government of Samar is preparing to welcome tourists from Eastern Visayas region this November.
The province is specially expecting tourist traffic after the completion of the popular San Juanico Bridge aesthetic lighting project in the same month.
“This lighting project will put Samar on the map. We hope for more tourist traffic not only in the region but also outside Region 8 (soon),” Samar Governor Reynolds Michael Tan said in Tuesday’s Laging Handa public briefing.
The aesthetic lighting project of the San Juanico Bridge was proposed to the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) in 2015 by then governor and now Rep. Sharee Ann Tan. The tourism-attached agency allocated P80 million for the project and another P90 million for the board work and a view deck adjacent to the area.
Tan said the local government unit (LGU) also provided P20 million for the access road leading to the viewing deck.
Although the project was heavily criticized when it started at the height of the COVID-19 crisis, Eastern Visayas Tourism Regional Director Karen Tiopes said many are now looking forward to its completion so they can visit.
Construction work is now 75 percent done and the Samar LGU is just in time for the Christmas season.
Tiopes said the regional tourism office will institute measures to make sure that the area will be properly developed capitalizing on the lights and sounds show which will soon be unveiled to the public.
Once operational, the lights and sounds show will run every 15 minutes in an hour every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday starting at 6 p.m. The bridge will be illuminated with static lights from 5p.m. to 11p.m.
“The San Juanico Bridge will be a colorful thing to see,” she said.
“This will also help in our COVID-19 recovery because I know it’s very difficult for us to travel abroad. We can offer tourism packages wherein travelers within the region or inside the Philippines can visit Samar and see the beauty that the island offers. This would make Samar more progressive through tourism,” the governor added.
Samar, which is also a popular surfing spot, has reopened its beach resorts to local residents.
“We are expecting more of our kababayans to be coming home this coming December to spend their holidays here. I hope by that time, the COVID-19 positivity rate here is finally low so we can really say that we will be able to open our doors to tourists not just within Region 8 but also from other regions,” Tiopes said.
The regional tourism head is also expecting the recovery of the industry to kick off in the first quarter of 2021.