CDO & Region X: Top Tourism Destinations

The Philippines’ secretary of tourism, Joseph Ace Durano, believes that Cagayan de Oro City, as well as some of its neighboring towns, has the potential to become the country’s top tourist destinations. The tourism secretary says these areas in the northern part of Mindanao possess this potential, especially now that the commissioning of the Laguindingan Airport in 2012 makes it an international entry point.

According to Secretary Ace Durano, the overall fastest growing sector in the country is the adventure sports and eco-tourism. Ace Durano said so during a press conference that happened right after the 13th Kumbira Culinary Show at the Atrium, Limketkai Center. Ace Durano also thinks that at present, there is no region in the Philippines that can match Northern Mindanao, especially Cagayan de Oro’s niche markets.

The country’s tourism industry has recently experienced a significant growth for the first quarter of 2010. As of today, the Philippines has been visited by around 1.3 million tourists, showing an average growth of 10.33% since 2008. As observed, the growth was more likely to take place during the first half of the year. Tourist arrivals in the Philippines’ top 16 tourism destinations nearly reached 4 million for the first quarter of 2009 alone.

According to the DOT secretary, one of the best strategies to increase visits to a specific region was to enhance its points of access. This may probably explain the addition of destinations to charter flights from Nanning, Shanghai, Kunming, and Guangzhou in China, as well as Kaohsiung and Taipei from Taiwan. The country’s Department of Tourism has made the right decision by focusing more on attracting potential tourists from several points of destinations that are around three or six hours away from the country, instead of merely relying on further investment to enhance the Philippines’ tourism facilities.

Secretary Ace Durano notes that a region can start focusing more on attracting tourists coming from the ASEAN region, as well as from Australia, Korea, and China. Aside from the benefits it can bring to the country’s tourism, the influx of visitors coming from these areas will also do well for the country’s economy as these areas are among the world’s fastest growing markets.

Secretary Ace Durano also adds that the Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East AEASN Growth Area can turn out to be a favorable market, especially with the recent appointment of Catalino Chan III as the BIMP-Eaga sub-country coordinator for tourism.

Malacañang’s “Holiday Economics,” which is all about long weekends, as well the fare war that going on between domestic carriers were both attributed by the tourism secretary, saying that both factors encouraged quite a number of local tourists to book flights and travel. According to him, these factors have contributed a lot to the substantial increase in domestic tourism. Statistics shows an average of 20% increase around the second quarter of 2009.

Aside from these factors, a bunch of “zero air fares” promotions also encouraged foreign travelers to maximize the number of destinations they can go to within the country by reducing their overnight stays at their initial destinations. This led to an increase in the foreign traffic by an estimated 6%.

As for Cagayan de Oro’s potential to become one of the country’s top tourist destinations, Ace Durano has attributed much of this to the city’s strategic location. The fact that Cagayan de Oro is right in the middle of the 600-mile ICT channel, known as the CyberCorridor, gives it a full advantage.

Additionally, the city is also attracting more and more foreign and domestic cyberservice providers, which includes software development, contact centers, medical and legal transcription, as well as other back office operations.

-by Mara Tismo-

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