Tawi-Tawi’s tourism ‘booming’; arrivals increase three-fold
Bongao, Tawi-Tawi (November 6, 2017) – There is a tourism boom in the province of Tawi-Tawi with visitor arrivals increasing three times more this year compared with figures posted in 2016.
Mobin Gampal, Tawi-Tawi provincial tourism officer, said the province is attracting local and foreign tourists despite the entire Mindanao under martial law since the second quarter of the year due to the Marawi crisis.
“In one month, we can expect more than a thousand to about three thousand tourists both from (the country’s 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,” Gampal added.
The most visited spots in Tawi-Tawi are Bongao Peak, better known as Bud Bongao, Panampangan Island, Simunul, Sitangkai, Panguan Island, and the Turtle Island.
With the increasing number of development and tourism projects, mostly initiated by the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (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. The ARMM has developed Bud Bongao into an Eco-Tourism Park with the construction of a visitor receiving center, waiting sheds, view decks, solar-powered 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 from Brgy. Nalil in the town of Bongao, said she has been climbing Bud Bongao regularly noting a 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.
In Tawi-Tawi, entry into tourist spots, including parks, is free, Gampal said. 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.
This week’s tourism event in the province is the celebration of the arrival of Sheikh Karimul Makhdum six centuries ago. It is observed annually in November 7 in the town of Simunul to showcase how people treasure the advent and practice of Islam in the Philippines. (Bureau of Public Information)