Tourist arrival in Northern Mindanao reached 1.3 million this year, up by 22 to 33 per cent compared to last year’s 800,000 visitors, making Region 10 the fifth mostly visited region in the country today.
Catalino Chan, Regional Director of the Department of Tourism, said the figure excluded an emerging group of tourists called “daytime tourists” who do not stay overnight in hotels but arrive here in the morning to experience whitewater rafting and go back to their respective destinations at the end of the day.
The data gathered was based on visitors listed in hotels, hostels and inns in various cities and provinces of North Mindanao comprising four provinces including the island of Camiguin.
Chan expressed confidence that tourist arrivals will continue to rise despite bad publicity about Mindanao’s peace and order condition.
“I am inviting all Manila based ambassadors of various countries to come and see for themselves whether these stories of war and conflict happened only in remote areas in Mindanao.
“People in Luzon perceived that the whole island of Mindanao is dangerous. For example, if there is an encounter in Lanao areas, a television reporter says he is reporting live from Iligan City, the audience would think that Iligan City is also a dangerous place to visit”, Chan said.
If ambassadors will acknowledge my invitation to come, they will surely lift their travel advisories in most part in Mindanao since they will have a concrete idea of specific places where it is not safe for their foreigners to visit while in Mindanao, Chan said.
“These travel advisories imposed on Mindanao is unfair. Why not issue a travel advisory in Egypt where suicide bombers and terror attacks are prevalent? I believed Mindanao is a much safer places in the Middle East,” Chan added.
“In fact, the tourist industry in dangerous places un Egypt is booming. Let us not look at the darker side,” he said.
Philippine tourism envoy to South East Asian countries Charles Lim is likewise optimistic that the completion of the Laguindingan airport in nearby Misamis Oriental would mean an increase of flights to Cagayan de Oro.
“”Cagayan de Oro is the economic hub of Mindanao. Let us remain it that way,” Chan said.