GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/20 April) — Upbeat with Region 12’s tourism potentials, the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) is pushing for the development of more world-class tourism sites in the area.
Sec. Luwalhal Antonino, MinDA chairperson, said the region has vast resources that remain largely untapped and could be developed into top tourist attractions if given the proper attention or focus, especially in terms of investments.
“We have a lot of underdeveloped tourist spots here in Region 12 and their full development could lure in more foreign and domestic tourists,” she said in a meeting with members of the Regional Development Council in Koronadal City.
She cited the popular beaches in Sarangani and Sultan Kudarat provinces as well as the eco-tourism spots in South Cotabato and North Cotabato.
Aside from the natural attractions, she said Region 12 is one of the few regions in the country that “can be truly considered a melting pot of diverse cultures and traditions.”
Antonino, who hails from Sarangani Province, said most of the existing tribal communities in the area were able to preserve their culture and traditions, and have been gaining huge interest from tourists.
She encouraged the local government units (LGUs) to include tourism in their priority development agendas.
LGUs should take advantage of various tourism investment and development programs of the national government that is being implemented by the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA), she said.
TIEZA, which is an attached agency of the Department of Tourism (DOT), manages government-led tourism infrastructure projects nationwide.
In Region 12, it is currently implementing two major tourism road projects in Tupi and Lake Sebu towns in South Cotabato.
“There are available funding windows right now for project proposals on tourism development coming from the LGUs,” she said.
For the development of tourism spots, Antonino said LGUs may seek funding for the hiring of architects and related consultants to fast track the preparation of their designs.
She cited the case of Davao Oriental, through Gov. Corazon Malanyaon, that is currently developing the Aliwagwag Falls in Cateel town.
TIEZA approved earlier this year the development of the waterfalls as among its priority projects in the Davao region.
Tourist arrivals in Region 12, which is also known as Soccsksargen, surged to a record 2.38 million last year, the DOT Region 12 earlier reported.
Tourist arrivals in the area totaled 2.04 million in 2014. It exceeded the agency’s target of 1.9 million tourist arrivals for the period by about 22 percent or around 426,000.
In 2013, the recorded figure only reached 345,328. (MindaNews)