Region 12 records 3.16 million tourist arrivals in 2015

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/05 March) — Tourist arrivals in Region 12 have reached nearly 3.16 million in 2015, the highest for the region in the last four years, Nelly Nita Dillera, Department of Tourism (DOT) Region 12 director, said.

Dillera said the region’s visitor arrivals last year increased by 581,556 or 18 percent more than 2014’s 2,576,405

She said it also surpassed their target of 2.8 million local and foreign tourist arrivals by around 360,000 or about 11.5 percent.

“It mainly shows that the perception and confidence among tourists regarding the region’s peace and order situation have been improving,” Dillera said in a press conference.

A report released by DOT-12 showed that day tourists comprised the bulk of the region’s visitors last year at 2,212,197 while the overnight tourists reached 939,369.

In terms of foreign tourists, the agency recorded a total of 53,861 visitors, a significant increase from 31,861 in 2014.

Most of the foreign visitors were from the United States and South Korea.

The number of meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions or MICE events hosted the region last year increased to 9,698 from only 399 in 2014.

The occupancy rate in hotels and other accommodation establishments in parts of the region slightly surged to 41 percent last year, from 38 percent in 2014.

This city posted the most number of tourist arrivals in 2015 with 1,204,459, followed by Sarangani with 608,423; South Cotabato with 437,343; North Cotabato with 251,175; Cotabato City with 203,176; Kidapawan City with 154,548; Tacurong City with 131,970; Sultan Kudarat with 89,452; and, Koronadal City with 77,415.

Dillera attributed this accomplishment to the region’s enhanced tourism development, promotion and marketing initiatives.

She specifically cited the agency’s adoption in February last year of the tagline “#HelloParadise” as the official brand name and centerpiece of the region’s tourism campaigns.

It also adopted “SOX” as moniker for Region 12 or Southwestern Mindanao. The region comprises the provinces of South Cotabato, North Cotabato, Sarangani and Sultan Kudarat and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Kidapawan, Tacurong and Cotabato.

Region 12 is also refered to as Soccsksargen, hence SOX, to make it more “catchy and easy to remember.”

“Our tourism industry has gained tremendous momentum these past years because of our enhanced campaigns. In fact our average annual growth rate for tourist arrivals of 118.90 percent is so far the highest in the entire Mindanao,” Dillera said.

DOT-12 recorded a total of 296,247 tourist arrivals in 2012; 831,683 in 2013; 2,576,405 in 2014; and, 3,157,961 in 2015.

The agency has set a regional travel and trade expo next month in Makati City that 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. (MindaNews)