DAVAO CITY, Nov. 20 (PNA) — Tourist arrivals in Mindanao are expected to rise by 10 to 20 percent year-on-year if backed with logistic support from concerned government agencies, a tourism official said.
Department of Tourism-Mindanao (DOT-Mindanao) Assistant Secretary Eden David noted that she sees this possible with the creation of a Mindanao Tourism Agenda (MTA) to go on a full-blown scale by next year.
“The target that has been set is to at least increase it by 10 to 20 percent but it be dependent upon logistic support when it comes to infrastructure,” David said in a press conference in Davao City.
DOT earlier said that the MTA is expected to complement the department’s National Tourism Development Plan (NTDP).
“The Mindanao plan will have to be started by 2017. There would be a MOA (memorandum of agreement) that would be undertaken next week and hopefully by end of the year we have initial draft to submit to Malacanang,” David said.
Data from DOT Mindanao showed that the island acquired around 8.5 million tourist arrivals in 2015 with the bulk of these arrivals coming from the Davao Region (Region 11) with around 2.8 million arrivals.
Meanwhile, the Zamboanga Peninsula (Region 9) acquired around 800,000 arrivals, Northern Mindanao (Region 10) acquired around 2.7 million arrivals, Soccsksargen (Region 12) acquired around 1 million arrivals and Caraga (Region 13) acquired around 1.2 million arrivals.
DOT Secretary Wanda Teo vowed to boost Mindanao tourism under her term especially since she herself and President Rodrigo Duterte hails from the same region.
“My focus is always Davao and Mindanao because I feel like Davao has been left behind,” Teo said. “Palawan, Boracay, Cebu are already known. Now, it’s Davao’s turn.”
Alongside the agenda, DOT-Mindanao will also be offering missionary tours through Davao Metro Shuttle Company’s Go Mindanao Tourist Bus by March next year.
The company will invest in 400 luxury bus units, which will be strategically located all over Mindanao, to transport tourists to around 300 tourist destinations within the island.
The Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA), an attached agency of the DOT, will meanwhile set up information centers to a house souvenir shop, a mini restaurant, shower, restroom, locker and even a prayer room.
David said that routes for the first phase will cover Davao-Bukidnon-Cagayan de Oro and Davao to Butuan. She also assured the safety of tourists.
The next set of buses — around 60 of them — will arrive next year.
DOT-Mindanao is also working on increasing road connectivity within the Davao Region by 80 percent next year through the construction of a Samal Circumferential Road and a bridge connecting Davao City to the Island Garden City of Samal (Igacos) or simply, Samal Island.
David said that the budget will be coming from the Tourism Road Infra Program (TRIPC), a joint project of the DOT and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH). (PNA) BNB/ANP