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CAGAYAN DE ORO, Philippines – The Department of Tourism (DOT) will develop a “Heritage Trail” covering areas in Cagayan de Oro City and the provinces of Misamis Oriental and Camiguin as part of efforts to give Northern Mindanao tourism a boost.
Initial funds amounting to P240 million would be spent to develop roads leading to local heritage and tourism sites in Cagayan de Oro in 2023, Representative Rufus Rodriguez of the city’s 2nd District said on Tuesday, September 6.
Rodriguez said the government aims to turn local tourism and religious sites and Spanish historical ruins in Cagayan de Oro, Misamis Oriental, and Camiguin into major tourism come-ons in line with the thrust of the Marcos administration.
In his first State of the Nation Address, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. called tourism “an important economic development tool” that can be used to create opportunities and jobs at the grassroots level.
But the head of the Cagayan de Oro City Council’s trade and commerce committee said he did not see how the so-called “Heritage Trail” would draw in more tourists.
The projects would be funded under the Tourism Road Infrastructure Program of the DOT.
The initial projects include the following:
- An P80-million road leading to Our Lady of Guadalupe Shrine in the village of Balubal
- A P30-million road that would link FS Catanico Falls to the Dao Heritage Tree in Mapawa Ranch in the village of Cugman
- A P20-million road leading to Bigaan Falls in the village of Indahag
- A P30-million road leading to Manlumot Falls in the village of Tablon
- An P80-million road leading to Amaya View in the village of Indahag
Councilor James Judith said the undertaking would strengthen the tourism and historical aspects of the city, and he was glad that Rodriguez was giving it a push in Congress.
But another Cagayan de Oro councilor, George Goking, said he doubts that developing the “Heritage Trail” would bring droves of tourists into the city.
At most, the project would only complement local business tourism, said Goking, the chairman of the city council’s trade and commerce committee.
“Tourists won’t come just because of that. Is there really tourism in the city? What was tested was the city’s attractiveness as a convention destination in Mindanao, and, so, we should build on that,” he told Rappler.
Goking said Cagayan de Oro hosted numerous national conventions before 2016.
“When Digong (former president Rodrigo Duterte) rose to power, Davao City siphoned off all the conventions in Mindanao. That was understandable,” he said.
The COVID-19 pandemic ended Cagayan de Oro’s standing as a major convention center, he added.
“We should bring that back. It has been tested. Conventions worked for us. Government and the private sector should invest more in convention facilities. That would boost local tourism. The other tourist destinations can be side trips, but I doubt if they can serve as come-ons,” Goking said. – Rappler.com