Sarangani province’s tourism industry has reportedly started to recover after a “down year” in 2020 that saw its prime beach resorts and other tourist destinations closing down for extended periods due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
April Marjorie Rudes, provincial tourism officer of Sarangani, said Tuesday the tourist arrivals in the area are increasing, with most of the travel restrictions in the province and other parts of Region 12 (Soccksargen) lifted.
Since January, she said they recorded nearly 100,000 tourists who spent at least a day in various tourism sites and establishments in the province.
Such figure is still way below the 1.1 million same-day visitors recorded in the province in 2019 or before the onset of the pandemic but she said it offers hope for the local tourism industry to further recover.
“The tourist arrivals mainly increased when we opened the province to visitors from outside of Soccsksargen,” Rudes said in a phone interview.
She said the popular white-sand beaches of Barangay Gumasa in Glan town, Sarangani province recorded the most number of visitors despite only opening to those from outside Region 12 early this month.
Dubbed the “Boracay of the South,” the over two dozen beach resorts in the area started to reopen in the last quarter of 2020 but were only limited to residents within Region 12 until February.
Aside from Glan, Rudes said they also monitored an increase in visitors to new attractions in Alabel town, among them the Tugal Falls in Barangay Pag-asa, as well as the other beaches, especially the Tuka marine park in Kiamba.
She assured that they are closely monitoring the compliance of all tourism establishments in the province to the Covid-19 protocols to prevent a possible surge of the disease.
Since the province, like the rest of Soccsksargen, is still under modified general community quarantine, resorts and tourism sites are only allowed to accept guests at 50-percent capacity.
She said all tourism establishments are mandated to implement the minimum health standards like the wearing of face masks and face shields, and the observance of safe physical distancing for all visitors and their workers.
In Glan, she said the municipal government has required all visitors to register with their quick response or QR-coded digital contact-tracing application, dubbed DVY Cares.
Tourists are not allowed to enter the area without a prior and confirmed booking with any of the local resorts, she said.
“Beach hopping is also prohibited in Glan as an additional precaution,” she said.
Sarangani Gov. Steve Chiongbian Solon has continued to remind residents as well as visitors to remain cautious and vigilant due to the continuing community transmission of Covid-19 in the region.
He expressed hopes that the situation in the area will eventually normalize with the continuing rollout of the national government’s vaccination program against Covid-19.
Source: Philippines News Agency