GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/28 March) — Trade and tourism players in Region 12 have generated around P3.1 million worth of product and accommodation sales and bookings during the recent week-long “selling mission” in the cities of Iloilo and Bacolod.
Nelly Nita Dillera, Department of Tourism Region 12 director, said Friday a major coffee distributor based in Iloilo City has linked up with a group of coffee producers based in Sultan Kudarat province for the shipment of around P3 million worth of Arabica coffee.
She said the sales negotiations, which will initially involve a 20-footer container van shipment of coffee, are being facilitated by the Department of Trade and Industry personnel in Sultan Kudarat province.
The potential deal came up during the tourism exposition or expo organized by DOT-12 at the SM City Mall in Iloilo City and the series of related gathering held during the “selling mission,” which ended last Tuesday.
Dubbed “luring Iloilo to Region 12,” the tourism expo featured exhibits of Region 12’s top products, tourist destinations, fashion shows and cultural presentations.
DOT-12 also hosted a business matching session for tour operators between the two areas and embarked on familiarization tours in parts of Iloilo City and Bacolod.
Region 12, which is 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.
In terms of actual sales, Dillera the cultural and souvenir booths posted a total income of P93,000 and around P20,00 in sales bookings during the expo.
Among the top-selling items were those made of the famed T’nalak fabric, which is produced by weavers from the T’boli in Lake Sebu, South Cotabato.
“We’ve negotiated for the opening of an outlet at SM City Iloilo to market souvenir items and other products from Lake Sebu,” she said.
During the expo, the free sashimi tasting featuring three 90-kilo high grade tuna offered by the city government of Genera Santos became a big hit, leading to some inquiries from Iloilo City traders.
The official said the hotels and resorts booth only signed up five bookings but it generated significant inquiries and new contacts from potential clients.
She said they expect the booking to create some multiplier effect, noting that the travelers will also have to eat, tour and shop in the area during their stay.
The DOT-12 decided to stage the “selling mission” to connect the “common ethnic bond between the people of Iloilo and the region’s settlers.”
“It envisions to lure the Ilonggos to Region 12’s tourism assets, making it a venue for filial and business gathering such as conferences, conventions, reunions and other similar events,” Dillera said.
Region 12 has a significant Ilonggo or Hiligaynon-speaking population that traces their roots to the settlers who were brought to the area by the government during the 1930s.
Presently, leading domestic airline Cebu Pacific, which was a major of the activity, maintains four direct flights weekly from this city to Iloilo City but plans are already underway for their expansion to seven flights or one each day. (MindaNews)