Canadian Ambassador to the Philippines, Neil Reeder, informed Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo that the province will be a beneficiary of the Local Governance Support Program for Local Economic Development, of $18 million, funded by the Canadian government to support its tourism industry.
Reeder met with Degamo at the provincial capitol building in Dumaguete City last week as part of his sorties in the Philippines, especially in provinces to be benefitted by the program, to further foster Philippine-Canadian relationship in terms of trade and investments, immigration, tourism industry, and environment.
Reeder said in an interview in Dumaguete, that the LGSP-LED is a collaboration between the Department of Interior and Local Government and the Canadian International Development Agency.
In Negros Oriental, LGSP-LED will focus on capacity building and developing the tourism sector by training personnel in the hotel industry, building tourism circuits, well-trained staff, investment promotions, and better marketing of the province as a tourism destination. Negros Oriental is part of the last batch that will benefit from the program in the next two years.
Degamo said the program will boost the tourism industry of the province that was named last year as one of the top tourist destinations in Central Visayas.
Reeder also met with Dumaguete City Mayor Manuel Sagarbarria, Vice Mayor Woodrow Maquiling, and other local officials.
Sagarbarria told Reeder they look forward to strengthening ties with Canada through a sister city relationship, possibly with the city of Toronto. The mayor was invited to visit Alameda City in California, U.S.A. in June 2015, and may visit Canada before returning home.
Reeder said there are about 800,000 Filipinos in Canada, and around 130,000 Canadians come to the Philippines as tourists, so pursuing a good partnership is a good idea, he said.
He said his first impression of Dumaguete was “very clean, very organized, the Rizal Boulevard by the sea is beautiful, the people are very happy and relaxed.”
Reeder cited the presence of lots of acacia trees especially inside the Silliman University campus, near the Capitol area, and that of Rizal Boulevard. Obviously, the tourism industry in this part of the country is perfect and has a great potential of becoming a major tourist destination, he added.
Sagarbarria said hes hopes the city will have more tourist from Canada after the visit of Reeder.
Reeder and his wife, Irene, also met with SU president Ben Malayang III, and toured the campus before meeting with university officials, a press release from the school said.
Reeder expressed interest in working with Silliman in exploring areas of cooperation between SU and higher education institutions in Canada.
Also at the meeting were Malayang, Vice President for Development Jane Annette Belarmino, and Ruben Bokingo, director of SU Alumni and External Affairs, the press release added.*JG
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