TWO regional tourist hotspots in the country boasting a Unesco World Heritage site and a surfer’s paradise accredited low number of tourism enterprises in 2012, which may hurt the country’s compliance with international standards.
A Commission on Audit (COA) report on the Department of Tourism (DOT) bared that the regions of Ilocos and Caraga slumped to dismal percentages when it comes to accrediting tourism hubs in their areas.
Figures show that in Ilocos, out of 683 tourism companies, only 106 were accredited in 2012, translating to 16-percent accreditation.
Ilocos Sur, where century-old Vigan City only accredited 11 out of 52 companies.
Other Ilocandia provinces also fell behind in numbers: Pangasinan accredited 30 out of 362; Ilocos Norte, 41 out of 177; and La Union 24 out of 92.
Down south in northeastern Mindanao, the Caraga region is known for its surfing, island hopping, mountain biking, trekking, “spelunking” or caving and scuba diving sites.
However, out of 136 travel agencies and tourist-related businesses, only 29 were accredited, or 21 percent of the whole.
Only one was accredited in Agusan del Sur out of 10; two in Agusan del Norte out of five; 16 in Surigao del Norte out of 36; and not even one out of 16 in Surigao del Sur.
Famed surfing capital of the Philippines, Siargao Island, is in Surigao del Norte. In 2012, CNNGo ranked Siargao eighth in its top 50 best surf spots due to the island’s Cloud Nine waves.
With the robust tourism promotion of the country, the failure of Ilocos and Caraga may affect the country’s compliance with international parameter, since “operating quality and efficiency were not evaluated as to compliance with international standards,” the report noted.
Auditors said that the failure was primarily due to the DOT’s failure to coordinate with the local governments units on requiring the enterprises to submit the certificate of accreditation as part of the requirements for a mayor’s permit.
Revenue-wise, the COA estimated that loss of income could have reached P912,650 both for Ilocos and Caraga were the application fees paid during accreditation.
The Caraga provincial tourism office said that the pilot year in the implementation of the mandatory accreditation for only started in 2012, “thus it is expected that there could be low accreditation rate.”