THE Philippines' Department of Tourism (DoT) is focusing on developing Mindanao as a tourist destination despite security concerns in the area.
Art Boncato, assistant tourism secretary with Mindanao as a special project, said his priority is to increase accessibility by encouraging international commercial and chartered flights to come to Davao, Mindanao’s gateway and most urban destination.
He disclosed that South Korean carriers Air Busan, Jeju Air and Jin Air are considering stopping in Davao. The city is home to some 5,000 South Koreans and tourist arrivals from South Korea are on the rise.
Meanwhile, SilkAir, the only foreign carrier flying to Davao, this month raised frequencies from five to six times weekly from Singapore via Cebu.
Asked about the safety situation in Mindanao after the recent strife in Zamboanga, Boncato said: “It is most crucial…to strengthen our local government units and local communities to respond (to this kind of problem).”
He added that tourism is a vehicle to peace and tourists would come to see Mindanao as peaceful, beautiful and worth the visit. “It’s a matter of positioning and sharing it with the rest of the world,” Boncato noted.
Mindanao is currently being marketed as a mainstream destination in the country alongside Bohol and Palawan in the DoT’s promotions in Europe.