By Ben Serrano
Aside from Siargao nautical highway that will connect Surigao del Norte mainland and Surigao City to now favorite tourist destination Siargao Island, the provincial government of Surigao del Norte aimed to upgrade ports and docking areas for cruise ships as the province is aggressively positioning itself as a cruise ships’ destination.
During State of Province Address on Monday July 17, in her speech Surigao del Norte Gov. Matugas said, “We are currently talking to the World Bank and the talks all have been very positive for the implementation of big ticket infrastructure projects in the province to include the expansion of the Siargao Airport, the establishment of docking areas for cruise ships.”
Matugas said frequent foreign tourists from Europe, U.S, China and some Scandinavian countries have requested her for docking areas for cruise ships in favorite Surigao del Norte island destinations particularly Siargao, Bucas Grande, Sohoton, Puyo Island, Surigao City and other areas.
“The Department of Tourism considered our province as having the highest foreign tourist arrivals in the region Our tourist arrivals posted a 12.9% increase in 2016 and an increase in tourism-related establishments to 9.7% as of 2017. This can be attributed to the continued influx of domestic and foreign tourists in Siargao Island. And with the additional Siargao-Manila direct flights daily, it is anticipated to increase further,” Matugas, who is now on her third term as the first woman governor of Surigao del Norte.
“More projects for tourism development started with this year like the Enhanced Tourism Road Infrastructure Project, Prioritization Criteria and Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority projects with the support from the Department of Public Works and Highways and the Department of Transportation ,among others, ” she added.
Meanwhile, Barangay Sudlon in Island town of Socorro, was adjudged by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Department of Tourism as the Most Tourism-Oriented Village in the country for year 2016.
It was chosen due to continuing efforts of Sudlon barangays officials headed by Barangay Captain Melvin Jualo in the preservation and conservation of the National Integrated Protected Area System areas in partnership with people’s organization Sohoton Environmental Protector’s Association.
Sudon was the first local village to develop and employed a genuine community-based local tourist guides, environmental warriors in both marine, coastal and upland protected areas who went through several capacity building trainings sponsored by Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Department of Tourism.