In the Philippines, the Regional Tourism Council (RTC) 12 is continuously making efforts to step up the promotion of tourism industry in the region.
Michelle Lopez-Solon, RTC-12 chair revealed that the council along with the Department of Tourism (DOT) 12 has been visiting different regions in the country to promote various tours and products inspired by the belief that “the best is actually here in Region 12.”
She said the region is being tagged as “The 12th Paradise,” the area’s tourism tag, citing that there are twelve reasons or even over a thousand reasons to visit Region 12.
The region otherwise known as SOCCSKSARGEN comprises the provinces of South Cotabato, North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, and Sarangani and the cities of Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan , Cotabato and General Santos.
General Santos City as the region’s entry point offers a great deal of superb destinations like beach resorts, parks and other tourism-related activities like snorkeling, mountain climbing, among others.
“As tourists enter General Santos City, they can savor the yummy taste of fresh tuna and other leading fishes and delicacies available,” Solon said.
Some of the popular tourist destinations in Region 12 include the white beaches in Gumasa, Glan, Sarangani; Lake Sebu in South Cotabato; Asik-asik Falls in Alamada, North Cotabato; and the Baras Bird Sanctuary in Tacurong, Sultan Kudarat.
In addition, Solon said tourists who love to study people and their culture may also want to get exposed to the culture and life practices of Indigenous People living in the region which includes the Blaan, Tagakaolo, Tboli, Manobo, Ubo, Kalagan and the Maguindanaons.
The Lamlifew Village, a hinterland community of Blaan in Sitio Lamlifew, Datal Tampal, Malungon, Sarangani has able to preserve its roots making the Blaan cultures and heritage so intensely rich.
This community also houses the School of Living Tradition featuring a Village Museum which showcases century old women’s accessories such as bangles, anklets, head dresses, brass belts, shoulder tussles to include pieces of traditional clothing, knives, and gongs.
Recently, the DOT 12 conducted a weeklong expedition called “Luring Iloilo/ Bacolod to 12th Paradise” to promote Region 12’s finest to other areas.
Solon described the undertaking as “selling mission and travel exhibit” in the Western Visayas, which was spearheaded by Nelly Dillera, regional director of DOT-12.
The trip also brought them to places in Region 6 with the intention to touch base with the roots of Ilonggos and see local destinations, products, services, and culture.
According to Solon, the team was able to introduce and showcase Region 12’s finest destinations, products, and services including cultures and heritage of diverse people in the area.
She was also happy to note the opening of Cebu Pacific direct flight from Iloilo- GenSan and vice versa, which schedules are four times a week.
The tourism chair said that this has been a welcome development as it means increased number of tourists coming from that region. “And we are looking forward to make it daily to better serve tourists coming from Region 6,” Solon enthused.
Moreover, she urged the people in Region 12 to explore first their own native place before taking themselves anywhere else in the country or abroad.
She explained that when more people get to see the beauty of nature in their own area, the more they are going to appreciate and take care of their surroundings and more so the “wealth of wonders” before them, thus helping the government preserve and protect the environment.
Dillera, on the other hand, emphasized that promoting tourism is not actually expensive as anyone can promote it saying further, “You don’t have to be Ms. Tourism to promote Region 12’s best offers; everybody should take part in pushing and boosting the tourism industry in their respective area.” (CT Apelacio with Lipsy Grace Carayo/PIA-12 General Santos City)