Mindanao will be a very important destination for ‘Visit PHL’ year and beyond – DOT

By Azer N. Parrocha

MANILA, Aug. 3 (PNA) — The Department of Tourism (DOT) is raising efforts to push Mindanao to be an important destination for “Visit the Philippines” year in 2015 as well as the many years to come.

Tourism Assistant Secretary Benito Bengzon Jr. said in an interview that Mindanao has a lot to offer in terms of culture, history and tourism and it is only apt that more awareness on the island be raised.

“We feel that with continued strong partnership between the government and the private sector, we will be able to raise the awareness level on Mindanao as a new exciting and fun destination to the global market,” Bengzon said.

At present, he said that tourist traffic currently flows into Davao, Zamboanga, Cagayan De Oro, and Siargao. However, he noted that it was just the first phase.

“There’s so much to see in Mindanao and we are confident that if we are able to get the support of government — especially the local governments — and like-minded partners in the private sector who see the immense potential of Mindanao, we can rapidly develop Mindanao into an exciting and very competitive destination,” he stressed.

Bengzon said that an estimated three-and-a-half million Filipinos are directly and indirectly employed in various tourism enterprises — hotels, resorts, transport companies, and the like.

The DOT official said that the target is to bring the number up to about five or six million by 2016.

For the meantime, Bengzon also encouraged Filipinos to take time to participate in different Eid’l Fitr Festival events in various museums nationwide.

He said that it will also be a way of seeing the wonderful attractions that Mindanao has to offer.

“Much has been said of the need to bridge the gap and bring stronger connections. This festival (Eid’l Fitr) is an effective way of achieving the unity we want to achieve in a very long time,” he added. (PNA)