Despite travel advisories, domestic tourists continue to increase in Mindanao, according to Department of Tourism 10 (DOT 10) Regional Director Marie Elaine Unchuan.
“Mindanao has its challenges because of its travel advisory. It’s unfortunate that we have some advisories but I supposed this came about of course because of reports of some isolated incidents,” said Unchuan in an interview during the opening of 5th Regional Travel fair held in Limketkai Mall in Cagayan de Oro City on August 23.
Yet, she said travel bans do not deter domestic tourists from coming to various regions in Mindanao.
“We have been getting an increase of domestic tourists so I guess social media also helps the people who have come here have a very good experience and share it. Maraming influencers, turista that have been promoting Mindanao at malaking tulong talaga yun kasi personal experience ang mahalaga sa tao. We have a lot of people to thank especially yung mga turista na nag-share ng experiences nila encouraging yung iba kasi nakikita nila yung magagandang tanawin ng Midnanao,” Unchuan said.
Kyle “Kulas” Jennermann, the Canadian behind the vlog “Becoming Filipino” and who is touring around Mindanao in his scooter described Mindanao as a kind of destination for every educated tourist.
“A lot of people when they heard about Mindanao they are fearsome. But what I found is people are very positive,” he said in an interview.
Jennermann has been in almost 70 places in Mindanao showing in his vlogs a Mindanao that is a safe, happy, and peaceful place.
“It’s the connection I have here, the people, they opened their lives and their homes for me. The communities here, the barangay, the people work very hard, I really appreciated that. On top of that is the diversity and experiences and the personal connection I have with the people,” he said.
Unchuan cited Iligan City which is the closest to Marawi City has a 200 percent increase of domestic tourists.
“I think people have been seeing the beauty of Mindanao as a whole and Northern Mindanao as a region. You can see the beauty in social media and of course the aggressive promotions of the Department of tourism (DOT),” she said.
Unchuan said tourists come in Mindanao to experience white water rafting in Cagayan de Oro, halal food in Lanao del Norte, Maria Cristina Falls in Iligan City, Mt. Kitanglad, Dahilayan Nature Park, Divine Mercy Shrine, and the Seven Seas Water Park.
She said presently they are now concentrating on experiences and will showcase the colorful and beautiful culture of Mindanao through the seven tribes of Bukidnon, the Subanens of Misamis Occidental and the Maranaos of Lanao del Norte.
“You have seen part of what we have to offer. We are very hopeful that we get more tourists,” she said.
The recently concluded 5th Regional Travel Fair organized by the marketing arm of the Department of Tourism, Tourism Promotions Board, will help expand the domestic footprint.
Attended by about 100 participants from different travel trade sectors, government agencies, and local government units, the event gave domestic exhibitors opportunity to transact business among sellers, buyers, and public consumers.
The event featured a two-day business-to-consumer (B2C) expo wherein exhibitors offered exclusive and affordable tour packages that can ultimately increase the volume of domestic travellers to Cagayan de Oro City.
“This is very significant because all the tour operators from different regions are here and they have already seen what we have to offer and they have been doing the B2B with our tour operators. Its really a big opportunity for us also showcase what we have and packages that we have. So more importantly they have cultivated relationships with tour operators. I think that is going to be a very good connection for us so that the tour operators of the different regions can also sell their packages and also promote a destination,” she said.