Tourist destinations in Mindanao got another boost with the two-week staging of the “Treasures of Sox” or Region 12, also known as SOCCSKSARGEN, which opened at the Department of Tourism Building in Makati City on Monday.
“This current showcase on south-central Mindanao supports DOT’s thrusts of developing and promoting the different tourist destinations in that part of the Philippines, which have been left behind,” Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo stressed during the opening program.
“As a destination, south-central Mindanao’s enchanting culture and traditions, as well as its pristine nature and adventure features, are ideal for millennials to visit and enjoy including those born with Filipino ancestry in other countries,” Teo added.
Region 12’s acronym stands for the region’s four provinces (South Cotabato, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and Sarangani) and one of its cities (General Santos).
According to Undersecretary Alma Rita Jimenez of DOT’s Tourism Regulation, Coordination and Resource Generation Sector, the Tourism Showroom is geared to creating product knowledge inter-regionally or cross-selling of tourism products and services among different regions.
Primary targets are tourism employees and walk-in visitors prior to their actual travel to the regions.
“With this prior knowledge, an employee of DoT and its attached agencies as well as any visitor will not be a ‘dayuhan’ [stranger] in our own country. They can then talk about the region’s distinct features to prospective domestic and foreign visitors. If you cannot go to the regions now, the regions will come to you,” Jimenez explained.
Tourism public servants were encouraged to know more about the distinct features of each region by patronizing the Philippine Showroom so they can present more details to others.
DOT Region 12 Director Nelly Nita Dillera revealed that since 2013, there has been an 85-percent increase in growth among domestic visitors as well as international tourists like South Koreans, Americans and Japanese.
DOT accreditation among mandatory and secondary establishments also saw a 44-percent increase.
Some of the SOCCSKSARGEN products on display and for sale consist of T’nalak cloth and brassware, fashion accessories, native handicrafts and food like tuna chicharon, taro chips, chocolate tablea by Kablon Farms, crispy dilis, among others.
The regional center is Koronadal, in the province of South Cotabato, and General Santos is the center of commerce, industry and its most populous city.
Soccsksargen also encompasses Cotabato City, situated within the borders of Maguindanao, a province of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).