DOT vows support to SOCCSKSARGEN, Mindanao

ISULAN, Sultan Kudarat—In a bid to further position the Philippines as a tourism powerhouse in Asia, the Department of Tourism (DOT) will prioritize the promotion of emerging and lesser-known destinations across the country and highlight the Filipino culture and identity, according to tourism chief Christina Garcia Frasco.

Addressing a crowd of some 200 guests composed of tourism stakeholders, local executives and officials, foreign retirees, expatriates, and diplomats attending the Bisita, Be My Guest grand launch in SOCCSKSARGEN (South Cotabato, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, and General Santos City) on Friday (May 19), Secretary Frasco underscored the commitment of the DOT under the Marcos Administration to give equal opportunities for tourism development and promotion, which puts emphasis on providing opportunities to lesser-known destinations.

“Our President Ferdinand Bongbong Marcos, Jr. very early on articulated in his administration that tourism is a priority, recognizing the power that tourism holds as far as its ability to change the lives of our fellow Filipinos. No other industry is able to give such a great opportunity for economic advancement in the farthest places in our country other than tourism. His directive, together with the support of our Vice President Sara Duterte, is to allow tourism to be seen, felt, and heard in the countryside; to leave no one behind in the development of tourism,” she said.

Frasco, the first tourism chief to visit Sultan Kudarat according to Governor Datu Pax Ali S. Mangudadatu, expressed her delight with the warm welcome she received from Sultan Kudarateños.

“I’m so happy to be here today to find myself in one of the most beautiful provinces of Mindanao that holds the key to the Filipino identity. Under the Marcos administration, the Department of Tourism is embarking on an aggressive program to give attention not only to our key destinations which we will continue to promote, but also to our emerging and lesser-known destinations. Panahon na sa Sultan Kudarat, inyu na ning oras na mulambo ang turismo sa inyong probinsya,” the tourism chief said in mixed English and Bisaya.

“I have come here today in full force with the Department of Tourism officials as well as our regional office if only to emphasize the importance with which we view Sultan Kudarat [and SOCCSKARGEN] as having great potential for tourism development, this is a manifestation of our commitment to you, and to the people of Sultan Kudarat [and the region],” she added.

Joining Frasco and Sultan Kudarat Governor Mangudadatu were Sultan Kudarat 1st district Representative Princess Bai Rihan Mangudadatu-Sakaluran, and Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) Philippines Chief Operating Officer Marga Nograles, as well as DOT officials Undersecretary Shahlimar Hofer Tamano, OIC-Undersecretary Verna Covar-Buensuceso, Assistant Secretary Rica Bueno, and DOT-SOCCSKSARGEN Regional Director King R. Arina.

“It is our commitment to the Department of Tourism and to President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. na sa lahat ng kanilang programa pagdating sa turismo ay 100 percent nasa likod nila tayo…100 percent ang ibibigay natin para ipakita na ang Sultan Kudarat at ang SOCCSKSARGEN is not only one of the optional places, ang dream po natin isa tayo sa primary places”, said Governor Mangudadatu, affirming the province’s full support to the DOT.

Meanwhile, Cong. Sakaluran said “Isang malaaking karangalan po sa aming probinsya dahil finally po napansino ng DOT ang aming probinsya ng Sultan Kudarat. Maliit lamang po ang aming probinsya pero napakayaman sa ganda at sa kultura.” 

Bisita, Be My Guest grand launch in SOCCSKSARGEN 

With the colors of Mindanao as backdrop, the DOT launched the Bisita, Be My Guest (BBMG)–its online tourism referral program–in a festive ceremony at the SP Hall of the Provincial Capitol in Isulan, Sultan Kudarat.

Performers from Teatro Kalakat and Hinugyaw dance group from Koronadal City enthralled the guests with cultural performances highlighting the rich heritage of SOCCSKSARGEN.

The BBMG provides incentives to Filipinos, from overseas Filipino workers to overseas Filipinos, across all parts of the world. Based on the program mechanics, Filipinos will be the “Sponsors”, and the invited foreign nationals who will travel to the Philippines will be the “Invitees”.

Among the exciting prizes at stake are condominium units from Megaworld Corporation and SMDC, house and lot from Amaia Land, shopping perks from Rustan’s, and SM Supermalls.

Livelihood assistance 

On the sidelines of her visit, Secretary Frasco turned over livelihood assistance amounting P200,000 to the Inugyunay Women’s Weavers Association, a community-based Tourism Organization (CBTO) in Sultan Kudarat.

The Inugyunay Women’s Weavers Association from Barangay New Passi, Tacurong City has created a sustainable and profitable business out of woven bags made of recycled plastic straps featuring hand-painted birds from their top tourist destination, the Baras Bird Sanctuary in Tacurong City, Sultan Kudarat.

Through livelihood assistance, the Inugyunay Women’s Weavers Association will be provided with high-speed sewing machines and other essentials for bag-making by the DOT-SOCCSKSARGEN.

The association is one of the three registered CBTO in Sultan Kudarat, which also include the Hinalaan River Guides in the town of Kalamansig, and the Katunggan River Guides Association in Lebak municipality, both of which had received livelihood assistance from the DOT last year.


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