‘VolunTurismo’ project aims to bring 100k tourists to ‘Odette’-ruined Siargao Island

Houses along the coast of Burgos town in Siargao Island were wiped out by the wrath of Super Typhoon Odette in this photo taken on Monday, 3 January 2022. Odette made landfall in Siargao on 16 December 2021. MIndaNews photo by ROEL CATOTO

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 22 April) – The Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) is set to launch next month “VolunTurismo,” a project that seeks to bring in thousands of tourists to Siargao Island to aid in its economic recovery and rehabilitation efforts after it was ravaged by Super Typhoon Odette in December 2021.

Adrian Tamayo, MinDA public relations head, said that the project aims to encourage more volunteer tourists to come to the island and extend support to the locals months after the super typhoon wreaked havoc in their communities.

The soft launch is scheduled on May 5, he said.

“The aim is to encourage tourists, as volunteer tourists, to visit Siargao and enjoy the waves and the sand, while also extending support to Siargao communities through agriculture activities, psychosocial support and community development,” he said.

He said MinDA wants to help revive the tourism industry of the island, which is the primary income source of the people of Siargao.

He said “VolunTurismo,” a coinage of “volunteerism” and “tourism,” is expected to attract 100,000 tourists in the coming months to help in the recovery and rehabilitation of Siargao.

“For one tourist, it can generate support to 10 individuals, including porters, homestay workers and those in the transportation sector.  That’s the way for a sustainable economic recovery,” he said.

Super Typhoon Odette (international name: Rai) first made landfall in Siargao Island at 1:30 p.m. on 16 December 2021, a Thursday, packing maximum winds of up to 257 kilometers per hour or 160 miles per hour (https://disasterphilanthropy.org/disaster/super-typhoon-odette-rai/).

Odette, the 15th and the strongest typhoon to hit the Philippines in 2021, made several other landfalls in other parts of Mindanao and the Visayas after barreling through touristy Siargao, the surfing capital of the Philippines named as the “Best Island in Asia” last year by the US-based travel magazine Condé Nast Traveler.

At least 95% of households and public facilities on the island suffered different degrees of destruction, the local government reported.

Siargao gradually reopened to tourists in February.   (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)