The city of Gensan ranked 1 in the most number of tourist arrivals among cities and provinces of the SOCCSKSARGEN region for the first semester of 2017.
Data from the Department of Tourism (DOT) 12 showed that a total of 806, 841 visitors entered the city from January to June 2017, which was 19 % higher than the 678,762 reported in the same period last year.
“Gensan is still number 1, and I don’t think Martial Law has a great impact to affect the arrival of visitors here,” City Tourism Officer Maria Cora Tito said.
SOCCSKSARGEN Region also recorded a 21% increase this year or a total of 2,504,962 from the recorded 2, 065, 053 in the first semester of 2016 despite apprehensions that Martial Law might have adverse effect to the tourism sector particularly on tourist arrivals.
Last May 23, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte declared a 60-day Martial Law for the entire Mindanao to quell the rebellion in Marawi City. The Senate and House of Representatives in July granted the President’s request to extend the military rule until December 31, 2017.
City Councilor Dominador Lagare Jr. expressed concern that the declaration of Martial Law might pose a big challenge to the successful celebration of Tuna Festival which had its soft opening last Tuesday.
“In other places like Davao, the arrival of tourists declined. I hope it’s not going to happen here.”
Lagare, however, assured that the city government will not leave any stone unturned just to ensure that the celebration will be as successful as the previous year.
Shandee Llido-Pestano, Chair Committee on Tourism of the City Council also looks forward for more tourists to visit the city.
“Others are even happy with the Martial Law they feel much safer because of the heightened security,” she said
Meanwhile, DOT 12 Regional Director Nelly Nita Dillera disclosed that the number of overnight and day tourists in the region also increased by 7% and 26% respectively.
The DOT 12 recorded 573, 280 tourists spending overnight in the different accommodation facilities of the region from January to June of 2017 compared with the 535,799 reported in 2016.
It said, a total of 1,931,682 day tourists was also recorded for the first semester of 2017 from the 1,529,224 tourist arrivals reported for the same period last year.
Although the number of foreign tourists declined by 55% for the first quarter this year, Dillera expressed optimism that the enhancement of existing and emerging tourist destinations and the hosting of big events like festivals would still boost the tourism sector in the region.
SOCCSKSARGEN or Region 12 comprises the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and North Cotabato, and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato. (NAVFruylan-PIA12 Gensan)