The passage of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) will not only benefit the general peace and security condition of Mindanao and its people, but will also spur the region's tourism and economic growth, a Department of Tourism official said.
At present, only the domestic market is the primary driving force that boosts tourist arrivals in Mindanao. This, however, does not cover the provinces under the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
“The domestic market drives tourist arrivals in Mindanao. With the exception of the ARMM region, active marketing and promotion, product development, and strong LGU (Local Government Unit) involvement have kept the regions competitive,” Tourism Assistant Secretary Arturo Boncato said in a statement sent by the Peace Process Media Bureau.
Boncato added that travel advisories issued by the United States, Canada, Japan, Australia, Taiwan and South Korea in some areas of Mindanao, particularly in ARMM, have snagged the tourism growth of the region.
“The travel advisories by the US, Canada, Japan, Australia, Taiwan, and South Korea to various parts of Mindanao and specifically in ARMM areas have kept Mindanao an unattractive destination for regional and international markets. Even the domestic market is wary,” Boncato said.
He further expressed hope that with the passage of the BBL, Mindanao, specifically the provinces in ARMM, will eventually get a better impression not only in the peace and security issue but also as an alternative tourist destination.
“Currently, the DOT is working with DOT ARMM and is positioning the region as a destination for both domestic and international markets during important and meaningful celebrations such as the Eid’l Fitr,” he said.
He added, hopefully with the enactment of BBL which would pave the way for lasting peace in the region, “travelers can celebrate in Cotabato City where the biggest mosque in the country is located.”
“The growth impact on ARMM tourism if entering a peaceful BBL regime can very well be like the national average growth both in arrivals and spend. We need to continue building investor confidence, investing in infrastructure, working on connectivity, rolling our standards and regulation, and marketing and promotions focused on existing products (sites, attractions, services) as part of a confidence-building program for our target market,” Boncato said.
He likewise claimed that with the passage of the BBL, domestic and foreign arrivals would significantly improve since security concerns will no longer be a big issue for tourists who will visit Mindanao.
As indicated in the DOT’s 2012 to 2013 statistics of tourist arrivals in Mindanao, Davao region has been the top tourist destination in Mindanao with an increase of 252,086 tourists coming in or 1,827,086 as against 2012’s 1,575,000 arrivals, while Region 10 or Northern Mindanao which covers the provinces of Bukidnon, Camiguin, Lanao del Norte, Misamis Occidental and Misamis Occidental is the second most visited region in the southern part of the Philippines, despite a decline with local and foreign tourists slightly down from 1,482,801 in 2012 to 1,321,172 arrivals in 2013.
The ARMM provinces remain to be the least visited part of Mindanao followed by Region 12 or the Cotabato region and Zamboanga Peninsula. (Peace Process Media Bureau)