By Mike Crismundo
BUTUAN CITY – The regional office of the Department of Tourism (DOT) in Caraga region has stepped up identifying possible tourism farming sites to further boost the tourism industry in various parts of the region.
“We are exploring more possible tourism farming sites in an effort to continuously spur our tourism program as also one of the priority agenda of the Regional Development Council (RDC) under the chairmanship of Surigao del Norte Gov. Sol F. Matugas,” DOT 13 Regional Director Ma. Ana T. Nuguid said.
Nuguid said the regional staff and technical men and women of DOT 13 are already closely coordinating with the provincial and city tourism officials in identifying at least 70 possible tourism farming sites spread out in the five provinces and six cities in Northeastern Mindanao (Caraga region).
Agri-tourism or farm tourism is expected to be a viable alternative or complement to the usual beach attractions and activities which will likewise boost farmers’ earning potentials, she said.
“Employment to locals will also be boosted,” the region’s top tourism official said.
The tourism industry provides great opportunities for diversification of income for small-scale farmers and IP organizations, she said.
Nuguid said that farm and eco-tourism open up a new perspective of livelihood, especially for IP groups, towards an inclusive and sustainable economic development.
One of the sites already acknowledged by the DOT 13 is the Alameda Farm, 73 kilometers south of Tandag City in the municipality of San
Agustin, Surigao del Sur. Alameda Farm is on a hilly area of Sitio Hamburger Hills, Barangay Gata, 750 feet above sea level and 2.8 kilometers away from the national highway.
Another potential tourism farm site is Medado’s Agri-Tourism Farm in Butuan City. Butuan City Mayor Ronnie Vicente C. Lagnada urged the city tourism officials to closely coordinate with the DOT 13 for possibly declaring Medado’s Agri-Tourism Farm as one of the region’s agri-tourism potential site.
“Yes, we are supporting this program because we know that this can also support our constituent’s livelihood,” Mayor Lagnada added.
Meanwhile, the DOT 13 is optimistic that tourist arrivals towards the end of the year and the upcoming year of 2019 will continue to increase in Caraga region.
DOT 13 records showed that for the first quarter of 2018, a total of 303,014 tourists visited the region, which is 2.02% higher than in 2017 at around 297,015.
“As we are closing the last quarter of this year, we are sure that the spike would be drastically higher than that of 2017, as we’ve seen the surge of guests in Siargao Island since March, this year,” Director Nuguid said.
DOT Caraga shows that the biggest contributor to the increase in tourists in the region for the first quarter has been those visiting Surigao del Norte where Siargao Island is located, the surfing capital of the Philippines.
About 56,310 visitors for the first quarter of 2018 were recorded for Surigao del Norte compared to 45,626 of 2017 or a 23.42% increase, DOT 13 said.