More tourists flock Tawi-tawi
TAWI-TAWI – There is a tourism boom in the province of Tawi-tawi in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao with visitor arrivals increasing three times more this year compared with figures posted in 2016.
Mobin Gampal, Tawitawi provincial tourism officer, said the province continues to attract local and foreign tourists despite President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration of martial law in the entire Mindanao in May due to the siege of Marawi City by ISIS.
“In one month, we can expect about three thousand tourists both from other provinces and from outside the country,” Gampal said. “One factor that attracts tourists is the stable peace and order situation in our province. Tourists do not request security personnel when they visit the province because they feel secure.”
The most visited spots in Tawi-tawi are Bongao Peak – better known as Bud Bongao – and Panampangan Island, Simunul, Sitangkai, Panguan Island, and Turtle Island.
With the increasing number of development and tourism projects, mostly initiated by ARMM, the province is ready to be the region’s top tourist destination. Since 2012, the ARMM has placed more than P3 billion worth of projects in the province, including tourism infrastructure.
ARMM has developed Bud Bongao into an Ecotourism Park with the construction of a visitor receiving center, waiting sheds, view decks, solarpowered post lights, concrete paved steps and handrails, and a 400-meter access road. This tourism project was supported by a P56 million budget from the regional government. The inaugural climb of the Bud Bongao Eco-toursim Park was held in July this year.
Nilma Askali, 22, a resident of Nalil village in the capital town of Bongao, said she has been climbing Bud Bongao regularly noting the bird’s eye view from the peak relieves her of worries and anxieties.
“Nakakawala ng stress sa trabaho, ‘yung pagod mo mapapawi, mare-relax ka ‘pag nasa tuktok ka na at makikita mo yung view,” Nilma said, noting that there are no fees collected in all tourist spots and parks.
He also underscored that accommodation, food, and other amenities in the province are affordable and generally budget-friendly. “The lifestyle in Tawi-tawi is unique. Most of our tourists are coming here not only because of the place itself, but because of the life Tawi-tawi has,” Gampal said.
ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman has repeatedly invited Filipinos and foreigners to come and visit Tawi-tawi and learn more about its historical and colorful past, and its people and culture while enjoying nature at its best.
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