By Ellson Quismorio
A vice chairman of the House Committee on Tourism thanked the Koreans and Chinese, among other nationalities, Monday for keeping Philippine tourism afloat.
Iligan lone district Rep. Frederick Siao was reacting to a recent report indicating that 1.6 million tourists visited the country between January and February this year. The figure was a six percent jump from the 1.4 million arrivals for the same period in 2018.
The Department of Tourism (DOT) bared that Koreans topped the visitors’ list, accounting for 180,890 arrivals. The Chinese were a close second with 174,175 arrivals for the first two months of 2019.
“I hope they include in their itinerary our tourist destinations here in Iligan and Northern Mindanao,” Siao said, while thanking the Koreans, Chinese, and Americans “for coming to the country in large numbers.”
“In Iligan, we have the magnificent Maria Cristina waterfalls, as well as the falls of Limunsudan and Tinago. We have natural springs in Timoga-Buruun, and the forests of Mt. Agad-Agad and Rogongon and Digkilaan. Iligan City is also one of two gateways to Northern Mindanao. The other is Cagayan de Oro City,” he said as he promoted his home province.
Visitors from the United States of America were a distant third on the DOT’s list with 94,632 arrivals, followed by Japan with 64,365, and Taiwan with 30,648.
Noting the DOT’s goal of achieving 8.2 million foreign tourist arrivals for 2019, Siao pointed out the need to train more tourist guides and build more budget hotels in the country’s major tourism hot spots.
He also mentioned the need for more connective infrastructure down south to make tourism spots more accessible.
“Iligan already has ample hotels, resorts, wellness facilities and other components of the tourism sector. However, the city and the rest of Northern Mindanao need road networks and bridges to vastly improve access to the many tourism spots of the city and its neighboring communities,” Siao said.
“It is for this reason that I have been pushing for House Bill (HB) 5720. This bill seeks to include Iligan City in the National Tourism Development Plan of the Department of Tourism, so the city can have its just share in the infrastructure development budget of the national government,” Siao added.
The measure was approved by the House on November 2018 and has since been transmitted to the Senate.