Surigao exec to counter travel advisories by foreign embassies

Angered by what they claim as generalization of travel advisories issued by foreign embassies for its citizens not to travel in troubled areas in Mindanao, a Surigao del Norte provincial board member said they will soon pass a resolution to counter those travel advisories.

At a press conference in the recently-concluded 4th Siargao International Surfing Cup held at General Luna town, the country’s surfing capital, Board Member Melva Garcia, chairperson of the committee on tourism, told newsmen foreign embassies should be specific as to what place in Mindanao their foreign nationals should not visit rather than generalizing the whole of Mindanao which includes Surigao as a perceived troubled area.

“For that we will issue a resolution addressed to foreign embassies”, Garcia said.

But Department of Tourism Caraga Regional Director Leticia Tan, for her part, claimed during the press conference held at Canbuntog Beach Resort in General Luna town that travel advisories are not affecting in anyway Caraga Region’s tourism industry.

Tan even boasted that despite travel advisories, arrivals of foreign tourists in Caraga Region have increased.

Local government unit officials in General Luna town, headed by Mayor Felipe Espejon, share Tan’s views, saying travel advisories do not affect at all the international surfing competition.

“So what’s the big fuss of making resolution telling foreign embassies on what to do with their travel advisories if at all it is not affecting Caraga’s fledgling tourism industry?’, NGO Caraga Watch official Dino Batucan asked.

Batucan in his unsolicited advice said tourism and local officials in Caraga Region should put house in order first before blaming everybody, including intervening functions of foreign embassies, if they really wanted an improved tourism industry.

Batucan noticed that all these years Caraga’s tourism industry is focused on foreign tourists, yet many of the region’s residents have not visited many potential tourism destinations of the region.

He said tourism officials failed to attract local tourists because it does not have right policies to attract one.

Batucan claimed more local tourists opted to visit Cebu than to visit Siargao islands because it is not offering cheap travel tours, saying hotels and lodging houses in Siargao islands are far more expensive as if only foreigners can afford.

Batucan also blamed poor tourism marketing plan as one of the failures of Caraga’s tourism industry.

He also blamed too much politicking among local officials in Caraga Region as also one of the culprits of failed tourism industry ,saying each local leader offer different plans as if outdoing each other instead of a unified effort to improve the industry.

“Putting house in order first before blaming foreign embassies on their travel advisories which are their duties after all must be the order of the day if we really wanted a successful tourism industry”, Batucan added.

Batucan concludes good facilities not resolutions will make a better Caraga tourism industry. (Ben Serrano, PNA)

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