By Mike Crismundo
SURIGAO CITY – City officials in this fast-rising “City of Island Adventures” are working to transform it into a major destination in the Southern Philippines by the year 2020.
Surigao City is the jump off point of the already acknowledged “Paradise Island of Siargao” and other tourist destinations in the province of Surigao del Norte.
The city officials are working hard to improve the “Bonok-Bonok” ethnic festival and “Dragon boat” festival, which are among the city’s most entertaining yearly activities to make it more globally competitive in the tourism industry.
The rehabilitated Surigao City National Airport is set to resume normal operation of its direct flights from Manila to Surigao City (aside from Cebu to Surigao City flights) early next year while additional passenger and cargo vessels are already deployed to Surigao City by another shipping agency to cater to the needs of tourists and the business community.
Mary Jean A. Camarin, officer-in-charge of the Department of Tourism (DOT) in Caraga region told The Manila Bulletin on Saturday that Surigao del Norte and Surigao City are already the major contributor in terms of tourist arrivals in the region.
In 2018, tourist arrivals in these areas were 206,411 with most of them coming from the USA, Australia, China, Canada, and Germany.
Surigao City officials are eyeing to have more than half a million tourist arrivals next year.
Last week, along with former city mayor and concurrent Vice-Mayor Ernesto T. Matugas, his son incumbent Surigao City Mayor Ernesto “Estong” U. Matugas, Jr., inked an agreement with the officials of the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) for the approved construction of P16,850,000.00 Mangrove Forest Walkway at Barangay Day-asan. The scope of works includes the installation of a floating dock, and the construction of a boardwalk with dock holding deck and view deck.
The ground works will be laid out early next year, Mayor Matugas said.
The Mangrove Forest Walkway project is part of the overall efforts of the city government to boost the city’s tourism industry. This will allow foreign and local tourists to see the thriving mangroves that serve as a sanctuary for the city’s rich marine resources.
It will also educate visitors on the importance of mangroves and the vital roles they play in the biodiversity of the marine resources in Surigao City, Mayor Matugas said.
“Along with all the members of the city council and other officials in our city, we are now closely working to transform our “City of Island Adventures” into a major destination by the year 2020 and beyond,” he said.
“The city has a number of hotels and restaurants. Another big hotel is ready to be constructed next year, possibly within the city’s boulevard area,” Vice Mayor Matugas said.
He also said the Public-Private-Partnership P800 million fund for the construction of the modern Surigao City Public Market, the P75 million expansion of the city’s executive building, and the multi-million-rehabilitation of the old PACEMCO Port to include an additional port for travellers going to Siargao Islands and Dinagat Islands, are all set for ground works next year.
A P36-million hatchery plant for aquaculture in Barangay Punta Bilar is also being constructed in the north eastern tip of the city.