DOT-ARMM sees more visitors arriving in ARMM this year
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Secretary Ayesha Vanessa Hajar Dilangalen said various regional events scheduled in the coming months will have active participation from domestic and foreign visitors.
Among the major festivities this year are the Inaul Festival in Maguindanao in February, which will include an international airsoft competition where foreign groups are invited; Kariyala Festival in Wao, Lanao del Sur also in February; and Bud Bongao Day in Tawi-Tawi in March.
Secretary Dilangalen noted the opening of Buluan Boulevard in Maguindanao, which will feature an exquisite display of man-made lights in addition to a river cruise, as well as activities under the One Mindanao tourism campaign, are also expected to lure visitors from other regions.
Based on the latest available ARMM tourism data, Lanao del Sur was the top tourist destination in 2016 with close to 70,000 visitor arrivals. This number produced roughly P1.2 billion in tourism receipts. The 2017 data for Lanao del Sur, however, is expected to slide down due to the Marawi crisis that started in May.
For at least five months, the province’s visitors were limited to government troops, members of the media, and representatives from civil society groups. Visitors to the province spent their cash in nearby Lanao del Norte, not in Lanao del Sur where economic activities were almost stagnant.
“Marawi siege’s effect in terms of tourist arrivals is evident,” Sec. Dilangalen said. However, rise in tourist arrivals in the four other provinces in the region especially in Maguindanao could compensate Lanao del Sur’s decline in tourism receipts, she said.
In 2017, Mt. Minandar in Maguindanao and Bud Bongao in Tawi-Tawi are two of the newly introduced tourist destinations in the region. Maluso in Basilan is also quickly also catching up in terms of tourist arrivals, Sec. Dilangalen said.
The region’s fabrics were showcased last year even as the concept of Sarimanok was used at the Miss Universe concept in the first quarter of 2017. During last year’s State of the Nation Address of President Rodrigo Duterte, different indigenous textiles were used by the attendees as part of their attire.
“We have high hopes since the tourism component is added to the core areas of Department of the Interior and Local Government’s Seal of Good Local Governance, and many local government units are now giving priority to tourism,” Sec. Dilangalen said.
The regional DOT chief is positive of the coming year since her office, she noted, was able to strengthen its linkages with the national government and with other partners. An event showcasing tourist attractions in the region is set to be held in April in the walled city of Intramuros in Manila where ARMM products would also be exhibited.
Also scheduled this year is the Tourism Crisis Symposium, which will help ARMM communities learn about proper response in times of need and to capacitate them as well. Among DOT-ARMM’s plans is to reinforce efforts in community-based tourism.
“We have to strengthen the preparation of our communities in order to have sustainable tourism. Through this, we get to work with the communities in giving our tourists an exquisite experience,” she said. (Bureau of Public Information)
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