GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 25 Aug) – Tourist arrivals in Region 12 reached around 2.5 million during the first half of the year despite the declaration of martial in May, but these are mostly local visitors as the number of foreigners who came dropped by 55 percent.
Nelly Nita Dillera, Department of Tourism (DOT) Region 12 director, said Friday such figure was about 21 percent more when compared to the same period last year that only reached 2.06 million.
“This only shows that our tourism industry continued to thrive despite the peace and security problems in our neighboring provinces,” she said in a press conference.
Region 12 is composed of the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and North Cotabato, and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.
A report released by DOT-12 showed that this city recorded the highest tourist arrivals from January to June with a total of 806,841.
Sarangani posted total visitors of 649,060, followed by North Cotabato with 303,488, South Cotabato with 259,965, Cotabato City with 126,814, Kidapawan City with 116,016, Tacurong City with 106,376, Koronadal City with 98,775, and Sultan Kudarat with 37,627.
But Dillera said the number of foreign visitors dropped by 55 percent or from 32,733 in 2016 to 14,893 this year.
In terms of day tourists, she said the figures increased by 47 percent or from 1,529,224 in 2016 to 2,241,137 this year.
But for overnight tourists or visitors who spend overnight in the area, she said the number only increased by 7 percent.
“We need to improve on this. We really wanted our tourists to stay and spend time longer in our destinations, and cities and provinces because that means they would be spending more money in these areas,” she said.
Michelle Solon, chair of the Region 12 tourism council, said the increase in the area’s tourist arrivals during the first half of the year shows that the area was not much affected by the prevailing martial law.
She said the situation on the ground remained “very normal” and the lifestyle of residents did not change.
“Nothing can stop the beauty of our region and in staying attractive. No matter what is the condition of the government, people will continue to come and experience our place,” she added. (MindaNews)