ILOILO CITY (MindaNews/23 March) — – The Department of Tourism (DOT) is seriously looking at Mindanao’s six regions as a major contributor to the country’s target to log around 10 million annual foreign tourist arrivals and 56.1 million domestic visitors in three years or by 2016.
Arturo Boncato, DOT assistant secretary for Mindanao operations, said the island’s variety of world-class tourist destinations have the capacity to attract a considerable number of foreign tourists if given proper focus in terms of development and marketing or promotion.
“We feel that now is the time for Mindanao to contribute to our national goals,” he said at the ongoing three-day Region 12 tourism exposition at the SM City Mall here.
He said Mindanao tourism stakeholders could begin by expanding their partnerships with their counterparts in other regions or parts of the country.
“I feel and I strongly think that Mindanao should position itself very strongly with partners all over the Philippines,” he said.
Boncato specifically cited, as example, the marketing and promotion linkages initiated by the DOT Region 12 and the area’s tourism players with their counterparts in Western Visayas or Region 6.
Region 12’s tourism stakeholders embarked on a week-long grand “selling mission” here last Tuesday in a bid to lure more tourists from the area.
The activity was highlighted by the tourism exposition, which features exhibits of the region’s top products, tourist destinations, fashion shows and cultural presentations.
Regions 12 and 6 share a common heritage and language as thousands of setters in Region 12 hail from the Visayas region.
Also known as the Soccsksargen Region, comprises the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, North Cotabato and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.
“What Region 12 has started with Region 6 is a classic example of a great partnership. In the long run, it will not only benefit Region 12 but Region 6 as well,” Boncato said.
In 2013, the DOT recorded total visitor arrivals of 4,681,307, surpassing the previous year’s record of 4,272,811 by 9.56 percent.
In 2012, the agency listed a record 36 million domestic tourists who visited various destinations in the country.
DOT has no immediate data as to the contribution of Mindanao’s six region’s to the foreign and domestic tourist arrivals but it targeted a total of 12,004,157 in 2013.
It is targeting total arrivals of 12,641,825 this year and 13,980,197 by 2016 based on the National Tourism Development Plan.
The targets are specifically for Mindanao’s seven identified tourism clusters that comprise the Cagayan de Oro coast and hinterlands, Davao Gulf and coast, Cotabato-Sarangani area, Zamboanga Peninsula, Agusan River Basin, Surigao-Dinagat Island area and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. (MindaNews)