GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/24 Aug) – South Cotabato officials are pushing for the promotion of tourist attractions in Region 12 or Southwestern Mindanao into a single package to help further build up their niche in the growing global tourism market.
South Cotabato Gov. Arthur Pingoy Jr. said he has initiated discussions with local government officials of the neighboring provinces of Sarangani, Sultan Kudarat and North Cotabato for the development of the region’s tourism areas into a single destination for both foreign and domestic tourists.
“Our tourism sectors will grow or develop faster if we make these available attractions and resources complement each other,” he said.
Pingoy said his proposal mainly intends to link up and develop into a single destination all the area’s tourism attractions, which includes the white sand beaches and diving areas of Sarangani, the eco-tourism areas of Mt. Matutum in Polomolok, T’boli and Lake Sebu in South Cotabato, Mt. Apo in North Cotabato and the famed caves of Senator Ninoy Aquino town in Sultan Kudarat.
These tourist attractions were declared several years ago by the Department of Tourism and the Regional Development Council of Region 12 or Southwestern Mindanao as the region’s banner destinations and tourism development areas.
Region 12 covers the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, North Cotabato and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Kidapawan, Tacurong and Cotabato.
By promoting the area as a single tourism package, Pingoy said tourists coming over will have a chance to explore and experience all top tourist spots in the region.
“This will be very good for our local businesses because all four provinces will now be part of the packaged tours for the tourists,” he said.
Pingoy, who is on his first term as South Cotabato governor, said he made such pitch as part of his plans to revitalize the province’s tourism industry.
The province’s tourism sector is bannered by the natural eco-tourism attractions of Lake Sebu town, which is home to three major lakes and seven waterfalls.
The lakeside town had been chosen as pilot area for a community-based tourism development project assisted by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) for the resurging Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines-East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA).
As part of the province’s tourism development strategy, the provincial government is presently planning to purchase a tourist-standard bus that will be used by its Arts, Culture, Tourism and Sports Office to ferry tourists and guests that will visit the province. (Allen V. Estabillo / MindaNews)