MINDANAO TOURISM. Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia-Frasco (seated, center), Defense Undersecretary Angelito De Leon (seated, left) and Local Government Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr. (seated, right) display the signed memorandum of agreement in Zamboanga City Wednesday (May 31, 2023). The MOA signing is in line with the vision of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. to develop the island-region's tourism potential. (Photo lifted from Zamboanga City Mayor John Dalipe Facebook Page)

ZAMBOANGA CITY – The Department of Tourism (DOT) forged an agreement here Wednesday with the Department of National Defense (DND) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to boost Mindanao's tourism industry.

DOT Secretary Christina Garcia-Frasco said the signing of a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the partner government agencies is in line with the vision of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. to develop Mindanao through tourism.

Frasco said Mindanao has many things to offer to tourists, both foreign and domestic, since it is rich in natural resources and cultural heritage.

“This (Mindanao) is a land of promise, a land of diversity and rich cultural heritage,” Frasco said in an interview here.

For his part, DILG Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr. called on local government units to formulate their tourism plans and collaborate with concerned stakeholders in promoting tourism developmental projects.

Abalos said they will train more tourist police to be deployed in tourist destinations.

“Through this convergence, the DILG commits to ensuring that our local policemen are properly deployed in tourist destinations,” he said.

The DND, represented by Undersecretary Angelito De Leon, has also vowed to prioritize the safety and security of tourists and assist in facilitating stakeholders’ involvement in tourism development projects.

De Leon said they will integrate DOT programs in their promotional activities and help capacitate people’s organizations for community-based tourism initiatives, especially in indigenous cultural communities.

“Together we will show to the world that the Philippines is not only home to pristine beaches, rich cultural heritage, distinct cuisines, and hospitable communities, but also a safe beautiful haven to explore and enjoy,” he said.

Frasco, meanwhile, expressed optimism that the Mindanao tourism industry will prosper considering that they have recorded some 2.1 million international arrivals since January this year.

Last year, she said the country managed to achieve 2.6 million international arrivals, surpassing the target goal of 1.7 million.

“Our top source market are the South Koreans, followed by the Americans, Australians, Canadians, and Japanese (in terms of tourist visits),” Frasco said.

The DOT chief further noted that domestic tourism is also flourishing as most flights and hotels are always fully booked. (PNA)