Historic Mindanao Tourism Convergence: DOT, DND, and DILG Unite to Boost Region’s Tourism Potential

The Department of Tourism (DOT), Department of National Defense (DND), and Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) made history on Wednesday with the signing of a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) during the first-ever Mindanao Tourism Convergence in Zamboanga City. The collaboration aims to promote Mindanao as a peaceful and viable destination for both domestic and international travelers.

Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco, Defense Secretary Carlito Galvez, Jr. (represented by Undersecretary Angelito De Leon), and Interior Secretary Benjamin “Benhur” Abalos, Jr., joined forces to strengthen inter-agency collaboration. The MOA signifies a commitment to prioritize peace, security, and order in tourism development programs, focusing specifically on Mindanao as part of the DOT’s seven-point agenda.

The event underscored the Departments’ dedication to promoting responsible tourism, preserving natural and cultural heritage, and fostering inclusive growth in Mindanao and the entire country.

During the MOA signing, Secretary Frasco emphasized the need to create an environment that provides equal tourism opportunities for all regions, particularly in areas like Mindanao, which may have faced challenges due to past incidents.

President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. had expressed the intention to prioritize tourism development in the Philippines during his administration, including the reopening of Mindanao to tourism.

Secretary Frasco announced plans to reintroduce Mindanao to the world, showcasing its natural wonders, people, traditions, heritage assets, and culture. The DOT aims to invite foreign ambassadors to witness the beauty of Mindanao and further promote the region.

While Secretary Galvez couldn’t be physically present, his message, delivered by Undersecretary De Leon, highlighted the Department’s commitment to establishing Philippine tourism anchored on culture, heritage, and identity. The National Tourism Development Plan (NTDP) 2023 to 2028 aligns with President Marcos Jr.’s vision for a sustainable, resilient, and competitive tourism industry.

Secretary Abalos emphasized the role of tourist police and local government units (LGUs) in making the region a safe and viable destination. The DILG commits to deploying police personnel to tourist destinations and calls on LGUs to formulate local tourism plans.

The agencies will collaborate to develop rural and insurgency-free communities in Mindanao, implementing community-based tourism programs. The DND will evaluate and recommend prospective areas for tourism development, the DILG will ensure peace and order, and the DOT will focus on tourism circuits, product development, and training programs.

Secretary Frasco also presented livelihood assistance to the Sta. Cruz People’s Organization, managing Sta. Cruz Island, a protected area known for Zamboanga’s Pink Sand Beach. The DOT aims to support the growth of tourism destinations and elevate the quality of services.

The Mindanao Tourism Convergence is a crucial step toward transforming Mindanao into a thriving tourism hub, showcasing its cultural richness, diverse landscapes, and warm hospitality.

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