South Cotabato eyes new tourism circuit

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/20 August) — The provincial government of South Cotabato has allocated an initial P2 million for the development a new tourism cluster or circuit in the area.

South Cotabato Gov. Daisy Avance-Fuentes said Wednesday such funding will mainly be utilized for the formulation of a comprehensive tourism plan for the proposed tourism circuit that will cover the agri-industrial towns of Polomolok, Tupi and Tantangan.

“We will be hiring professionals or experts in the field of tourism development to assist the three municipalities in coming up with long-term and sustainable tourism plans and strategies,” she said.

The governor said the initiative will focus on the identification of the viable tourism sites or attractions in the proposed circuit and setting of strategies for their development and promotion.

She said it will also determine the immediate and long-term needs of the area’s tourism sector, specifically in terms of accommodation facilities.

Tupi, which is dubbed the province’s fruit capital, is home to a number of untapped tourism resources and established attractions, among them the tarsier sanctuary in Barangay Linan and several swimming resorts.

The town, along with Polomolok, hosts the province’s famous landmark — Mt. Matutum — that hosts several potential ecotourism sites.

Polomolok, which is famous for the vast pineapple plantations of fruit giant Dole Philippines Inc., hosts several swimming resorts, fruit plantations and a golf course.

Tantangan town has a number of undeveloped waterfalls and emerging spring resorts that has been drawing attention from local tourists.

Fuentes said the development of the new tourism circuit will take off from a similar program they adopted several years ago for the province’s upper valley tourism circuit, which comprises the municipalities of T’boli, Lake Sebu, Surallah, Banga, Norala and Sto. Nino.

The six municipalities are part of the Allah Valley Landscape Development Alliance (AVLADA), a local government-led special environmental body that leads the protection, conservation and management of the critical Allah River and its environs.

Allah River, which is considered as one of the biggest river systems in southern and central Mindanao, traverses 11 localities within the provinces of South Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat.

Through the AVLADA, the local government was able to tap the services of professional consultants for the development of a masterplan for an “ecoutourism highway” that covers portions of the upper valley area.

Such move was funded by the P6.3 million grant received by AVLADA from the Canadian International Development Agency–supported Local Government Support Program-Local Economic Development.

“We will eventually link up the proposed tourism circuit with our upper valley area to form a province-wide tourism highway,” Fuentes added. (MindaNews)