SHARIFF AGUAK, Maguindanao: The province of Lanao del Sur posted P1.2 billion in tourism receipts for 2016 and was top tourism destination among the provinces in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), which attracted 69,606 visitors.
Nouraldin Ahmad Tamano, provincial tourism officer, said the number of visitors in Lanao del Sur in 2016 was 14 percent better compared with the 61,058 registered in 2015.
“Part of Lanao del Sur governor’s agenda is cultural tourism and promotion of tourist destinations in the province that can help generate income and livelihood to the locals,” Tamano added.
The province showcases distinct characteristics of the Maranaos way of life, history, and culture.
Lanao del Sur is composed of 39 towns with Marawi City as provincial capital.
Tamano said one must-see attraction is Lake Lanao, the largest inland body of water in Mindanao and the second largest lake in the Philippines.
Lake Lanao serves as reservoir for the Agus hydroelectric power plants that generate up to 75 percent of Mindanao’s power supply.
The arts and crafts of the Maranao tribe, Polo Barakat Mosque in Binidayan, Kilometer Zero, Mindanao State University and Daguduban in Marawi City, Lake Dapao in Pualas and white water rafting in Wao could easily lure tourists to the province.
Meanwhile, official figures from ARMM’s Tourism department showed 212,649 visited the region’s five provinces in 2016 with roughly P3.7 billion in tourism-related expenditures.
ARMM Tourism Secretary Ayesha Mangudadatu-Dilangalen said the influx of tourists in the region falls in the last quarter of the year.
Outside of Lanao del Sur, provincial breakdown of the tourism data showed Tawi-Tawi with 63,509 visitors and P1.1 billion in gross recipts; Maguindanao – 40,981 visitors and P721 million; Basilan –24,243 visitors and P424 million; and Sulu – 13,857 and P242 million.
“Tourist gross receipts cut across other industries like transport, trade, food and telecommunications, among others,” Dilangalen said.
Tourism, she added, can provide direct jobs to the community.
JULMUNIR I. JANNARAL