1Q tourist arrivals in Region 12 breach half million mark

KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews/10 May) – Over 500,000 tourists came to Region 12 from January to March this year, an official said.

Department of Tourism (DOT) 12 regional director Nelly Dillera said their records showed the bulk of the 518,085 domestic and foreign tourists visited the provinces of Sarangani, North Cotabato, and South Cotabato and General Santos City.

Sarangani topped the list with 278,285 tourists, she said, adding the province is known for its beautiful white sand beaches and corals reefs.

General Santos City registered 49,682; Cotabato, 45,582; South Cotabato, 42,051; Tacurong City, 32,246; Cotabato City, 21,631; Kidapawan City, 17,829; Koronadal City, 16,762; and Sultan Kudarat, 13,277.

Of the number, 3,486 are Australian, US, Japanese and Chinese nationals.

Dillera said number of tourist arrivals during the first quarter represented 27 percent of their total target this year, which is pegged at 1.9 million.

She noted that North Cotabato is now becoming famous for its curtain-like spring falls in Alamada town and Mount Apo in Kidapawan City.

General Santos City would draw tourists during its festivals, she said.

“With the number of tourist arrivals this quarter, we are hopeful we will hit our target,” she said during the induction here of officers of the newly-organized North Cotabato Tourism Press Corps.

“Tourism is business. When we lured tourists, both domestic and foreign to our place, it means income to all sectors, like hotels, restaurants, transport, and souvenir shops,” she added.

Since Monday, Dillera and her staff have been training tour guides and drivers of van, multi-cabs, and “habal-habal” in Barangay New Israel, Makilala to instill “professionalism” and the “culture of tourism”.

A settlement of Moncado followers in the barangay was chosen to become a model for DOT’s community-based ecotourism site.

The village hosts Asia’s reputedly longest zipline, about 2.8 kilometers long, Dillera said.

“We teach the community to become professional tour guides, honest, prompt, and hospitable. When people return to the place, bringing with them more friends, that shows we become successful in our campaign,” she said. (MindaNews)