Tourism or terrorism?
WHAT IMPEDES tourism growth in Mindanao is not the lack of world-class infrastructure but the continuing threat of terrorism.
The beauty and charm of Mindanao is beyond question. The problem is how to win that elusive peace this beautiful island of aplenty has been searching since time immemorial. This island, once dubbed as “The Land of Promise,” needs to strengthen its security—that is, guarantee law and order, the basic ingredient in the recipe for sustained tourism growth.
Now a conflicted land, continually facing violence and terrorist threats, Mindanao deserves the special attention of whoever gets to occupy Malacañang next, if it must successfully develop a responsible, sustainable and inclusive tourism economy, which would require greater connectivity among Mindanao’s diverse tourist destinations.
That said, the regional tourism office here, led by the ever dynamic Butch Chan III, has put on line several tourism initiatives, though it has expressed alarm over the surfeit of negative stories about Mindanao. Speaking before members of the Cagayan de Oro Press Club, Chan called on the local press to “trumpet” tourism first before terrorism. Like Chan, we shed a tear every time we hear and read bad news about Mindanao. We should look at the beauty and charm of the island more often.
And so we ask: What do we need to do to make travel safe and tourism robust inMindanao?
Chan’s tagline for Camiguin made waves and made it “The Island of Your Imagination.” Cagayan de Oro now has a new slogan: “The Golden Heart of Asia.” Malaybalay is “A City in the Forest,” while Valencia is “The City of Golden Harvest,” it being the rice granary of Northern Mindanao.
Transforming Mindanao into an island of peace and a tourist destination is a challenge that we in Mindanao and the next administration must deal with positively.
—RUFFY MAGBANUA, [email protected]
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