GENERAL SANTOS CITY: The Department of Tourism (DOT) in Region 12 is pushing for the development this year of more tour packages featuring the area’s top attractions in partnership with local travel and tour operators.
Nelly Nita Dillera, DOT Region 12 director, said the agency is currently assisting several travel and tour operators based in this city and other parts of the region in coming up with viable tour packages as well as promotion and marketing strategies for various ecotourism destinations in the area.
“We’re looking at developing local tour packages that we can market widely to both domestic and foreign tourists,” she said.
Despite being endowed with various world-class tourist attractions, Dillera earlier acknowledged that the region lacks marketable local tour packages.
She said most travel and tour operators based in the area are concentrated in promoting outbound tour packages, especially foreign destinations.
Region 12, which is also known as the Soccsksargen Region, comprises the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, North Cotabato and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.
To address the problem, the agency facilitated the training late last month of an initial 30 local tour operators on basic and advanced tour operations.
She said the training mainly empowered the participants in terms of the development and costing of tour packages that can be sold during travel fairs or directly to tourists.
The tour operators were given knowledge and techniques on linking up with other players and tourism establishments like accommodation facilities, destinations, transportation, tour guides and “pasalubong” product producers and retailers, she said.
The training included discussions and presentations on the travel industry; documentation requirements by the different government agencies; tourism products and services; world geography; planning, reservations, fares and ticketing; Philippine geography; tour packaging and costing; complex and advanced tour planning; quality customer service and effective communication; financial management and controls; sales and marketing techniques; and, trends and new technologies in travel.
Last year, the DOT-12 launched the “12th paradise” as the region’s tourism brand as part of its enhanced promotion and marketing campaign for the area’s tourist attractions.
Dillera said the campaign focuses on “what Region 12 can offer as a paradise” through its world-class natural and cultural destinations.
She said it includes “float in paradise for the various water activities, shower in paradise for the different waterfalls, dip in paradise for the underwater experiences, immerse in paradise for the distinct flora and fauna, wear in paradise for the different traditional clothing, dance in paradise for the cultural dances, create in paradise for the artistic prowess of the people, delight in paradise for the scenic sites, marvel in paradise for the historical structures, play in paradise for the various sports events, savor in paradise for the delicacies and explore in paradise for the natural adventure activities.”
DOT-12 identified the famed Lake Sebu in South Cotabato; Gumasa white sand beaches in Sarangani Province; bird sanctuary in Tacurong City, Sultan Kudarat; and, Asik-Asik Falls in Alamada town in North Cotabato as among the region’s top tourist destinations. PNA