The Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) will establish a tourist rest area (TRA) in Iloilo, one of the initiatives of the Department of Tourism (DOT) for seamless travel.

“TRA is a rest area with a showcase of local products and an information center of the Department of Tourism (DOT),” said TIEZA general manager Mark Lapid, who joined Ilonggos for the two-day highlights of the Dinagyang Festival on Jan. 27-28 upon the invitation of Iloilo City Rep. Julienne Baronda.

He said their next phase would cover Iloilo, Boracay, Batanes, Tawi-Tawi, Sulu, Zamboanga Sibugay, Occidental Mindoro, and Baguio.

TRAs are already established in Ilocos Norte, Cebu, Palawan, Bohol, Samal Island, and Bukidnon.

TIEZA will also fund the Dinagyang Festival Monument along Bonifacio Road. It earmarked an initial funding of P40 million pre-pandemic.

“This is one of the projects we pushed for funding under the TIEZA and Senator Lito Lapid. This will form part of the tourist attractions. Hopefully, it will be completed when they go back next year,” Baronda said in a follow-up interview on Monday, Jan. 29

She said a contest was held to choose the design of the monument that will be made of brass, depicting the arrival of the Sto. Niño and the Ilonggo devotion to the Holy Child.

In addition to the two projects, TIEZA and the office of Uswag Partylist Rep. James “Jojo” Ang are in the process of finalizing the proposed international convention center that can accommodate 10,000 seats.

“The (existing) convention center is too small right now to host an international event. I think it’s 10,000 capacity together with a cultural center,” Lapid said.

The convention could eventually host meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions (MICE) at the international level.

At the sidelines of the visit, 150 students were given PHP25,000 each under the Student Monetary Assistance for Recovery and Transition (SMART) program of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED).Perla Lena/PNA