GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/07 March) — Tourist arrivals in Region 12 or Soccsksargen surged to around 3.76 million in 2016, making it one of the fastest growing travel destinations in the country.
Nelly Nita Dillera, Department of Tourism-Region 12 director, said the region’s visitor arrivals last year increased by a total of 615,736 or 16 percent more than the 3,148, 928 in 2015.
She said the recorded visitors in 2016 is the highest for the region in the last four years or since 2013.
“Our annual average growth rate is around 18 percent and we’ve managed a consistent growth in arrivals these past years,” she said in a press conference on Monday afternoon.
Data released by DOT-12 showed that from 2,209,559 in 2015, the number of day tourists in the region last year increased to 2,729,307.
The recorded overnight tourists or those who spent at least a night in local accommodation facilities increased to 1,035,357 from 939,369 in 2015.
This city remained the top destination for both day and overnight tourists with arrivals of 1,345,570; followed by Sarangani with 619,940; South Cotabato with 535,203; North Cotabato with 340,909; Cotabato City with 346,063; Kidapawan City with 156,125; Tacurong City with 188,935; Sultan Kudarat with 114,842; and, Koronadal City with 117,077.
Cotabato City posted the highest growth rate in arrivals at 70 percent, followed by Tacurong City at 43 percent and Koronadal City at 40 percent.
In terms of foreign tourists, the agency recorded a total of 63,834 visitors, “almost double” from the 34,728 in the previous year.
Topping the list of foreign visitors are nationals from South Korea, Saudi Arabia, China, United States and Malaysia.
Dillera said more Koreans have been visiting the region mainly due to their interest to the area’s cultural and ecotourism destinations.
She said a number of local industries and companies have been also hiring Koreans these past years.
“Most Americans visited our region for business but also some were brought in by their friends and relatives for rest and recreation,” she said.
The official said the number of Malaysians who visited the area also increased due to cultural and business interests as part of the Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines-East ASEAN Growth Area or BIMP-EAGA sub-regional cooperation. (MindaNews)