KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews / April 21) – The province of North Cotabato recorded the most number of tourist arrivals in Southwestern Mindanao (Region 12) in 2013.
Regional Director Nelly Dillera, of the Department of Tourism (DOT)-12, said that North Cotabato, home of the Mount Apo, the country’s highest peak, and Asia’s longest zipline registered a total of 222,486 tourist arrivals last year.
Dillera said that many of these visitors are considered as “day tourists,” which means they only stay for a day in a tourist destination in the province, and then they leave.
But she was quick to remind stakeholders that keeping the tourists to spend a night or longer in a local hotel is the “challenge to all sectors that are involved in the tourism industry.”
“They have to make sure these tourists stay for a night or two in a hotel, rent a car, and buy local products. In this way, we’re creating a vibrant economy because of tourism,” Dillera said during the awarding ceremony of the Centennial Photo Contest held at the Cotabato Agri Center at the provincial capitol on Monday.
She said the problem Region 12 is facing is its “reputation” because of the unstable peace and order in some parts of the region, thus making it difficult to invite tourists.
“But this can be resolved. For every one negative story about Region 12, we must write at least 18 good stories about our area,” she said, noting that there indeed a lot of good stories about the place.
Dillera has also asked people from the region to use the power of social media to sell the area to local and foreign tourists.
“Use your Facebook accounts to post good stories about your place. Tell them the beauty of the place, its history, its people,” she appealed.
This year, Dillera said DOT-12 has embarked on a massive tourism campaign with its banner program, “Region 12: the 12th paradise.”
The program features 12 experiences, which features waterfalls like the Asik-asik Falls in Alamada, North Cotabato; beautiful beaches in Sarangani and Sultan Kudarat; lakes and springs; mountains and caves.