Tawi-Tawi tourists spend close to P1 billion in 2015
TAWI-TAWI – Tourists who visited the island province of Tawi-Tawi in southern Philippines in 2015 spent close to P1 billion and the Department of Tourism in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (DOTARMM) said it recorded a total of 55,085 foreign and domestic visitors in the province – a 14.3% increase in number from the previous year and posted some P965 million in gross tourism receipts.
Over 48,189 tourists came to the province for holiday or business purposes. Tawi-Tawi is the southernmost province in the country and covers small islands in the Sulu Sea and to the northwest, the Cagayan de TawiTawi Island and Turtle Island.
To connect TawiTawi’s islands and urban areas, the ARMM government is building more roads in the province. For instance, ARMM’s Public Works and Highways (DPWH-ARMM) has earmarked P55 million for the construction and development of Tawi-Tawi’s famous peak, Bud Bongao.
Tourism projects in Bud Bongao include a multi-purpose hall, a view deck, a station point, a concrete pathway, a parking area, and a billboard. “After the development of Bud Bongao, tourist arrivals and gross receipts in Tawi-Tawi, will further increase,” said Engr. Marites Maguindra, ARMM’s Tourism department (DOT-ARMM) Secretary.
Sec. Maguindra said DOT-ARMM will develop ecotourism packages in Tawi-Tawi and some of the activities to be promoted are scuba diving, island hopping, and visits to local communities.
Among the province’s major tourist sites are the Panampangan Island, the white beaches in the municipalities of SapaSapa and Sitangkai, Boloboc Cave in SangaSanga Island and Turtle Island.
Meanwhile, official figures from ARMM’s Tourism department showed a total of 192,307 visitors in 2015 with P3.4 billion in gross receipts. In 2014, tourist arrivals were placed at 168,178 with gross receipts of P2.9 billion. The figures showed a significant increase of 14.3% in tourist arrivals and 17.2% in gross receipts.
Based on the regional Tourism department’s annual report, much of the increase came during the last quarter of the year especially during the Agal-Agal Festival and Sheikh Karimul Makhdum. The region is composed of the mainland provinces of Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur and the island provinces of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.
The estimated gross receipts from tourism in the region were generated from cultural and nature, sun and beach, diving and marine sports, and other relevant events. “The achievement is because of the beautiful beaches, scenic spots and the improved security measures in the region,” Sec. Maguindra said.
Engr. Don Mustapha Loong, DPWH-ARMM Secretary, said his office is providing assistance to the tourism industry with the construction of access roads to various sites in the region. To strengthen tourism linkages, the DOT-ARMM gathered hundreds of tourism officers and industry players across the region for a tourism assembly held last year.
“It’s more fun in ARMM, so tayo mismo ang dapat maunang magdevelop nito dahil tayo lang sa ARMM ang makakapagsabi nito (It’s more fun in ARMM thus, we should be the first ones to develop this since we are the ones who know this well),” Sec. Maguindra said. “With all the efforts of the ARMM government, we are confident that we will exceed our tourism achievements this year.”