Leaders and tourism players in Siargao Island in Surigao del Norte have rallied behind Department of Tourism Secretary Maria Christina Frasco amid the controversy the agency faced recently.
In an interview on Monday, General Luna Mayor Sol Matugas said the strengthened recovery efforts for the tourism industry in Siargao after the pandemic and the typhoon devastations took place during the leadership of Frasco at the DOT.
“Secretary Frasco has contributed to the recovery of the tourism industry in Siargao Island especially here in General Luna town,” Matugas said.
Siargao Island is among the top tourist destinations in the country for its world-class surf breaks, pristine beaches, and vibrant local culture that captivate the hearts of travelers worldwide.
The island also hosts international water sports events, three of which were facilitated after the onslaught of typhoon Odette in December of 2021, including the international surfing competition in October last year, the game fishing in April this year, and the three-day international dragon boat race concluded last July 16.
Matugas said Frasco fostered strong partnerships with the local government units (LGUs) and the tourism players in Siargao Island to materialize the international surfing event last year, as well as the succeeding international events on the island.
“The international surfing last year signified the start of the full recovery of Siargao from the devastations of typhoon Odette and the effects of the pandemic,” Matugas said.
The DOT, through Frasco, also donated PHP1 million to General Luna to augment the finances needed for the surfing event.
Surigao del Norte 1st District Rep. Francisco Jose Matugas II also expressed his full support to Frasco, saying that her appointment to the DOT brought renewed hope for sustainable tourism, not only in Siargao but across the country.
“Before the first State of the Nation Address of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. last year, we went to the office of Secretary Frasco and presented our plan for the hosting of international surfing here in Siargao. She approved the request for financial support and gave her time to be present during the opening of the event,” Matugas said.
Being the vice chairperson of the Committee on Tourism in the Lower House, Matugas is also supportive of the DOT’s initiatives under the leadership of Frasco.
“We believe in her leadership. The present slogan of the DOT is the ultimate expression of one’s love for the country. Her strong leadership at the DOT inspired us to pursue world-class events here in Siargao,” he said.
Support from tourism players
Daniel Adrian Camingue, the president of the Siargao Tour Guides and Organizers Association (SITGOA), also believes that the DOT under Frasco, has big contributions to the recovery of the tourism industry in Siargao Island.
“The staging of the international events after the typhoon devastation helped us recover, especially for the business community in Siargao,” Camingue said in a separate interview.
The SITGOA, organized in March 2021, has 72 members, most of whom are based in this town.
Another group, the General Luna Homestay Association (GLHA), similarly appreciated the efforts of the government in stimulating the return of tourism activities on the island.
“The sector in homestay services benefited from the resumption of all the tourism activities, not only here in General Luna, but also in the other towns on the island,” said Karine Camingue, the GLHA president.
The GLHA has 106 homestay members in this town but not all are accredited with the DOT in the Caraga Region.
“The organization is working with the DOT to accredit all our members. The training that the agency is providing helps our members improve their services,” Camingue said. (PNA)