Region 12 prepares for travel & trade expo in Makati

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 1 March) – Region 12 stakeholders have stepped up their preparations for an upcoming regional travel and trade expo that will be held in Makati City.

Nelly Nita Dillera, Department of Tourism (DOT) Region 12 director, said they are currently finalizing the arrangements for the exposition, which will mainly feature the region’s top products and world-class tourist destinations.

Dubbed “Treasures of SOX: a Travel and Trade Expo,” the event is slated on April 11 to 14 at the Glorietta Mall’s activity center in Ayala Center, Makati.

DOT 12, in its promotion efforts, adopted SOX last year as moniker for Region 12, sometimes referred to as Soccsksargen, apparently an attempt to form an acronym out of its provinces and cities. The region is composed of the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, North Cotabato and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.

“We’re bringing together various stakeholders to make a grand sales pitch for the region’s best of the best products and tourist attractions,” Dillera said during the event’s formal launching in Koronadal City on Monday afternoon.

The expo is a regional convergence initiative spearheaded by the DOT-12 and the city government of Koronadal, in coordination with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI)-12, Department of Agriculture (DA)-12, Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE)-12 and the Department of Agrarian Reform-12.

It is also supported by Region 12’s four provincial and five city local government units (LGUs), tourism players and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

Dillera said they are targeting the participation of 40 to 50 exhibitors from the region in the four-day expo.

She said DA-12 has committed to support 20 exhibitors composed of farmers and farm-based groups, while DTI-12 is sending an additional 20 MSMEs.

These exhibits will include top products from parts of the region such as coffee, muscovado, fresh and processed tuna, organic rice, T’nalak fabric, processed fruits and various indigenous arts and crafts.

DOLE-12 is also planning to send some beneficiaries of its livelihood programs and projects to join the exhibit, Dillera said.

During the event, the official said they will hold daily travel fairs featuring the area’s tourist destinations, among them the famed Lake Sebu in South Cotabato, Asik-Asik Falls and Mt. Apo in North Cotabato and the white sand beaches of Sarangani.

She said they will conduct sales calls wherein local tour operators will meet with potential buyers and market the area’s tour packages.

The packages include transportation, tourist guides, accommodation and food, and entrance fees to the tourist destinations, she said.

Dillera said they have already scheduled meetings with members of the Philippines Tour Operators Association and the Philippine Travel Association.

She said DTI and DA will lead business matching activities with potential investors in agriculture-based industries and tourism-related ventures.

Local tourism players and LGUs have prepared presentations of their tourism plans as well as site and business plans to prospective investors.

Dillera said they are targeting to generate around P10 million in sales for local products and another P10 million for tourism packages.

To add “color and excitement,” Dillera said daily cultural performances highlighting the region’s indigenous peoples and fashion shows will be held at the venue.

She said the local governments of Koronadal and South Cotabato have enlisted famed fashion designer Jared Servano, who hails from the area, to showcase his works.

Servano is a runner-up in the 2015 edition of popular television fashion show Project Runway Philippines and has just showcased his designs in a fashion exhibit in London.

Dillera added that they will also hold a “SOX parade” around Ayala Center and host press conferences to further promote the region.