Sugba Lagoon in Del Carmen, Siargao Island, Surigao del Norte taken in October 2021 (Photo contributed by Ivy Marie Mangadlao)

MANILA – The Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) on Sunday assured that measures are in place to ensure that destinations in the southern part of the country are safe for tourists, noting that Mindanao is a key tourism destination included in its promotion activities in the past few years.

"The Mindanao region is a safe tourism destination with peace talks continually being done in the region, military, national and local law enforcement are doing its best to keep our destinations safe, and local government units are also working with NGOs (non-government organizations) and international organizations to make their destinations more sustainable and inclusive," TPB Chief Operating Officer Maria Anthonette Velasco-Allones said.

Mindanao is host to equally-stunning destinations such as the beaches in Davao, the sand bars and waterfalls in Camiguin, and adventure hubs in Cagayan de Oro to name a few, she added.

"We have other amazing destinations in Mindanao, in fact, we are supporting Philippine Airlines’ inaugural flight from Cotabato to Tawi-Tawi on June 9," she said.

She added: “Other destinations are still being vetted for compliance with health and safety protocols as we grow towards a safer, more sustainable and more inclusive tourism destination.”

Local governments in Mindanao, their respective tourism officers, the Department of Tourism's regional offices together with the military are "doing their best" to make ensure tourists are given necessary logistical support when traveling to the region, Velasco-Allones said.

She reminded the public to refrain from making remarks that generalize the entire Mindanao.

Journalist Raissa Robles drew flak over her recent tweet saying that Tourism Secretary-designate Christina Frasco's statement on opening up Mindanao to tourism would "please" the extremist Abu Sayyaf group with the prospect of "many potential kidnap victims."

On June 2, Robles tweeted: “Apparently, Frasco would like to open up Mindanao to tourism. I’m sure the extremist Abu Sayyaf and other bandits would be pleased by the prospects of so many potential kidnap victims. Way to go, Frasco. Prep for ransom negotiations.”

Vice President-elect Sara Z. Duterte, a Mindanao native, on Saturday night lambasted Robles for demonizing Mindanao and insulting its people. (PNA)