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DOT renews call for tourists to visit Mindanao

Ghio Ong - The Philippine Star
DOT renews call for tourists to visit Mindanao
Tourism Secretary Christina Frasco speaking at a press conference about "Love the Philippines" campaign on June 27, 2023.
Philstar.com / Rosette Adel

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Tourism (DOT) renewed its call for local and foreign travelers to visit Mindanao and thanked the Senate for approving its P3.339-billion budget for 2024.

During an event promoting halal food in Mindanao, Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia-Frasco invited tourists to “explore this vibrant island” as she hoped they would “reconsider their perception of Mindanao.”

“Other initiatives that have manifested the commitment of the Marcos administration to fully reopen Mindanao to tourism is the milestone agreement that we signed with the (Department of National Defense and Philippine National Police) to ensure that the reopening of Mindanao to tourism is firmly based on a data-based approach in terms of the very stable peace and order situation of the Mindanao regions,” she said at a hotel in Makati City on Nov. 21.

Ambassadors and representatives from Brunei, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Russia, Pakistan, Indonesia, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, Germany, Japan, Jordan, Qatar, Singapore, Thailand, Taiwan and the United States attended the event.

Among the dishes served to them were kinilaw or raw seafood mixed with vinegar and citrus, pisawawan a sapi or roasted bone marrow in beef broth from Lanao, piyanggang manuk or grilled chicken with burnt coconut sauce from Sulu, dinilutan a seda or grilled swordfish from Maguindanao and piyareng a udang or prawns mixed with coconut meat sauté and palapa scallion relish from Lanao.

Meanwhile, Frasco thanked the Senate for approving the DOT’s P3.339-billion budget for 2024.

Their 2024 budget is lower than this year’s budget of P3.7 billion but higher than the P2.99 billion initially recommended under the 2024 National Expenditure Program, according to DOT’s earlier statements.

During budget deliberations that lasted until the wee hours of Nov. 21, Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri declared the DOT’s budget should be increased for advertisements.

“Hopefully we reach five million by December. That’s good news. And hopefully we can double it. Let’s work hard. More ads, more ads, guys! Let’s increase their budget so that we have ads,” Zubiri said, as quoted by the DOT in its statement yesterday.

Sen. Nancy Binay, who defended the DOT’s proposed 2024 budget, said the Philippines has welcomed 4.7 million foreign visitors as of Nov. 21. – Rudy Santos

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