Mindanao’s image improves, presents fresh tourism opportunities

Efforts promoting Mindanao as a safe emerging destination is paying off, with travel consultants gaining newfound confidence in selling the destination and rolling out more tour packages to an increasingly receptive market.

Philippine Tour Operators Association (PHILTOA) president, Fe Abling-Yu, remarked that most travellers to Mindanao are locals who have “visited and continue to visit destinations in Mindanao” and that the island is “a beautiful, unspoiled and safe place contrary to their troubled image”.

More travellers are showing interest to visit Mindanao in the Philippines; Daku Island, pictured

She said the destination will continue to be promoted in PHILTOA’s Philippine Travel Mart (PTM) from September 1 to 3 this year even as its local government units (LGUs) continue to cooperate with tourism promotions and marketing. PHILTOA had sent travel caravans to Mindanao and got all of its five regions to join last year’s PTM.

In another development, an international cruise line is exploring the possibility of adding Zamboanga as a port of call in response to clamours for new port destinations in the Philippines.

“The fact that they came here to assess is already a fulfilment of my vision of putting Zamboanga back on the tourism map,” said Errold Lim Bayona, president, Tour Guides Association of Zamboanga.

Salvador Britanico Jr, vice president – sales, Philippine Airlines, agreed that demand for the carrier’s services to various parts of Mindanao are already back to normal except for flights to and from Cotabato, which has been temporarily halted until the repair of its airport’s runway is completed in September.

Abling-Yu noted that travellers are asking less questions about safety and security in Zamboanga, and added that they will be “bringing (more) tourists to Isabela de Basilan”.

In addition, with the increasing number of flights to Mindanao and cities like Zamboanga and Oroquieta, as well as the ferry services and buses plying the areas, more meaningful experiences and combining of destinations are in the works, she shared.

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