Lone congressional district representative “Doc” Marie Anne Pernes hailed the owners and management of Cocogrove Beach resort for its expansion saying, it’s a big boost to Siquijor’s tourism industry and the local economy
“It is Siquijor’s contribution, no matter how small, to the development of our country’s tourism sector towards meeting the growing demand for more accommodation facilities,” says Pernes in a keynote speech during the grand opening of its newest Casa Coco Villa and blessing and inauguration of the Coco Princess, an 80-seater yacht that will soon ply Siquijor-Dumaguete.
Pernes said there is good reason to celebrate—and even better reason for great expectations citing that Siquijor is among the best destinations in region 7 for foreign and domestic tourists.
In 2013, she cited that out of 2,138,861 domestic tourist arrivals in the region, 17,959 went to Siquijor. Cebu had 1,439,247; Negros Oriental 401,696; and Bohol 279,959.
Among foreign tourists, 15,472 visited Siquijor out of the 1,351,733 arrivals in Region 7, she stated.
San Juan town, where Cocogrove is, of course is the number one destination in Siquijor with 10,979 foreign and 6,113 domestic tourists in 2013 that made it to rank 6th among the top ten municipalities in the region in terms of tourist arrivals, she also said.
But while the island has some of the best natural wonders in the country, Pernes noted that if we go by the numbers, tourist arrivals in Siquijor account for just about one percent of the total foreign and local tourist arrivals in the region.
“This is understandable due to the island’s limited facilities for tourists,” she added.
Pernes accounted the data from the Department of Tourism (DOT) that showed Siquijor province had only 62 tourism establishments and 417 rooms in 2012—representing less than two percent of the facilities in the entire region.
Cocogrove's Adventurer Boat
“Which is why Coco Grove’s investments in new facilities really matter a lot in terms of being able to draw in more tourists to the province,” she said.
Admitting the island’s limitations, in size and on other industries like agriculture and manufacturing, Pernes sees the need to focus on the province’s strength— tourism, which she said requires good and efficient infrastructure.
The island offers some of the best attractions and because it is an island, it needs to develop its seaports and airport to make it accessible to the rest of the country and the rest of the world, she said.
She thanked Budget Secretary Butch Abad for coming to Siquijor to see for himself what and how the island needs budget for expansion and development.
She added that she also lobbied with the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC), Secretary Abaya, to include in the list of projects for development the Ports of Larena and Siquijor.
Pernes included in her request to the national government the improvement of airport which according to her gained support from the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) in region 7.
If all these come true, she said tourists will all the more increase and investors will be attracted to bring in more development for the province.
It is our goal that Siquijor be among the “new, exotic destinations” for local and international tourism. Coco Grove had done its share. We are looking for more investments in tourism—and assistance from the National Government for the development of vital infrastructure, Pernes concluded.
Budget Secretary Butch Abad graced the grand opening with National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) Secretary Joel Rocamora, representative Pernes and several other provincial and local personalities, expats, resorts owners, tourism stakeholders in Siquijor and Negros Oriental.
Cocogrove is the biggest accommodation establishment owned by Mr. & Mrs. Mike Butler and the first to be accredited by the Department of Tourism (DOT) in Siquijor. (mbcn/RAC/PIA7-Siquijor)