LAKE SEBU, South Cotabato (MindaNews/24 June) – Tourist arrivals in this resurging lakeside resort town has continued to register record figures since last year, thanks to its emerging eco-tourism attractions.
Engr. Rodolfo Tuya, project manager of the Seven Falls Project Management Unit (SFPMU), said Thursday the area’s recorded visits by various domestic and foreign tourists is now nearing the 100,000 mark as the town’s highly-touted zip lines continue to draw a significant number of visitors on a daily basis.
Tuya said that in 2008, the area only recorded 14,087 visits but it leapt to 51,212 last year due to the noted increased tourist arrivals during the last quarter of the year.
From January to May this year, he said SFPMU already recorded 41,522 visits.
“Since the operation of the project, we posted a monthly average of 70.65-percent increase in tourist arrivals,” Tuya said.
He noted the significant increase in visits or tourist arrivals is mainly due to the completion of the two zip lines connecting waterfall 1 and 5 as well as waterfall 2 and 5, which features a thrilling drop of about 740 and 400 meters, respectively.
Tuya said the increased visits were also noted in the area’s canopy walk and picnic areas near the waterfalls.
“Our visitors really enjoy the thrill of airborne flight between the waterfalls in just less than two minutes,” he said.
Aside from trying out the zip lines, he said extreme sports enthusiasts also enjoyed trekking, camping, bird-watching, and nature tripping around the seven waterfalls.
Lake Sebu town, which is famous for its three scenic natural lakes — Lahit (24 hectares), Seloton (48 hectares) and Sebu (354 hectares) — is one of the top tourism destinations of Region 12 or Southwestern Mindanao and was earlier identified as one of the region’s priority areas for tourism development.
Aside from the three lakes, the town hosts at least seven waterfalls, several natural springs and preserved cultural communities of the town’s T’boli tribe.
Two years ago, the provincial government of South Cotabato launched a P100-million tourism development project funded by the local government that is mainly focused on the development of the road networks and the establishment of resort facilities for the town’s seven waterfalls.
Last year, the Asian Development Bank adopted Lake Sebu as one of its priority development areas for eco-tourism in the Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines-East Asean Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA). (Allen V. Estabillo / MindaNews)