GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 18 Feb) – In a bid to attract additional visitors or tourists this year, the provincial government of South Cotabato is urging tourism facilities in the area to apply for accreditation with the Department of Tourism (DOT).
Cesar Sulit Jr., South Cotabato tourism officer, said Tuesday they are currently assisting hotels, resorts, travel and tour operators and other tourism-related establishments within the province in complying with the necessary upgrades or improvements and other requirements set by the DOT to facilitate their accreditation.
He said the improvements are mainly focused on the services and other operational aspects of the establishments.
Sulit said the DOT has set specific regulations based on global or international standards for the accreditation of local tourism facilities or businesses.
“We’re currently targeting the accreditation of 20 more establishments within the first half of the year,” he said in a media forum.
The official said that from just a single establishment in 2012, the number of DOT-accredited businesses within the province’s 10 towns and lone city has already increased to 16 as of the end of 2013.
He said the accredited establishments include hotels, inns, hostels, restaurants, special interest accommodations and resorts, sports and recreation centers, transportation companies and travel and tour operators.
Sulit said the increase was the result of a directive issued by the provincial government last year that required local tourism businesses to secure accreditation with the DOT.
Such move was supported by a resolution issued by the provincial board, he said.
“We really pushed for this to further enhance our tourism industry, especially in terms of the improvement of local tourism facilities and services as well as facilitate their promotion to a wider market,” he said.
In terms of benefits, Sulit said DOT-accredited establishments get free publicity and promotion through their inclusion in the agency’s website, flyers and other promotional materials.
He said they could also gain from the rating system being implemented by the agency for various tourism facilities or services.
“There are also some incentives like their exemption from some government regulations like the liquor ban during election time,” he said.
Sulit said that aside from the 20 that they are currently assisting, a number of tourism establishments have signified to also seek accreditation with the DOT within this year.
Most of these establishments are based in Koronadal City and in the municipalities of Banga, Surallah, Tupi, Polomolok and Lake Sebu.
Sulit said Koronadal City alone hosts 38 hotels, resorts, restaurants and tour operators, majority of which are not yet accredited with the DOT.
Last year, the DOT in Region 12 recorded a total of 58,705 domestic and foreign tourist arrivals in the province, specifically in Lake Sebu town, the area’s banner tourist destination.
Such figure accounts for 17 percent of the 345,328 tourists that visited the region in 2013.
It terms of foreign tourists, a total of 11,858 visited the region in 2013. They mostly came from the United States, Korea, Canada, Australia and Papua New Guinea.