DOT sees Siargao Island leading Caraga’s Holy Week tourism resurgence

Ivy Marie Mangadlao

This is AI generated summarization, which may have errors. For context, always refer to the full article.

DOT sees Siargao Island leading Caraga’s Holy Week tourism resurgence

KAWHAGAN ISLAND. A group enjoys the clear waters on Kawhagan Island, Del Carmen, Siargao Island.

Ivy Marie Mangadlao/Rappler

Tourism officials see a staggering increase of 599.25% in Caraga’s tourist arrivals this week alone, with Siargao Island being the driving factor, compared to the same period in 2023

BUTUAN, Philippines – Travelers have begun flocking to Caraga, especially Siargao Island, to take a break ahead of the holidays and spend the remaining days of the Holy Week in the region, renowned for its islands and ecotourism.

Tourism officials anticipate a staggering increase of 599.25% in Caraga’s tourist arrivals this week alone, attributed to the religious holidays, with the world-renowned Siargao Island being the driving factor, compared to the same period in 2023.

The projection is attributed to significant improvements that have made the region’s tourism destinations more accessible to travelers, such as the increased frequency of boat trips from the mainland to the islands and direct flights from other parts of the country.

NAKED ISLAND. A tour guide gives instructions to tourists on Naked Island, General Luna, Siargao. Ivy Marie Mangadlao/Rappler

Currently, there are 12 to 14 inbound flights to Sayak Airport in Del Carmen town, Siargao, Surigao del Norte, varying by the day of the week, originating from Metro Manila, Cebu, Clark, and Davao.

In terms of sea travel, there are at least six trips daily from Surigao City to Dapa, and another two trips from there to Del Carmen in Siargao.

High expectations

The Department of Tourism (DOT) in Caraga anticipates over 38,137 tourists in Siargao and elsewhere in the Caraga region until Easter Sunday.

During the 2023 Holy Week, the region only logged 5,454 tourists, a performance not so impressive given that the country was still recovering from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the poor accessibility to its islands.

Based on the DOT’s projections for this week, Siargao Island’s tourist arrivals would increase by 785.56%, totaling 14,904 visitors compared to the 2023 record of 1,683 total arrivals.

Island hopping has been one of the major tourism activities in Siargao, especially in General Luna town.

DOT-Caraga Director Ivonnie Dumadag said the number of boats for tourists has been augmented by pools of boat operators from other Surigao del Norte towns not known to cater to island-hoppers.

This, according to Dumadag, was enough to accommodate the surge of tourists visiting the beaches on popular island destinations like the tri-island Daku, Naked, and Guyam.

During last year’s Holy Week, General Luna experienced a shortage of boats for island-hopping adventures, prompting former Surigao del Norte governor and now town Mayor Sol Matugas to apologize on social media.


In Del Carmen, where the famous Sugba Lagoon is located, local officials said they have strictly enforced environmental safeguards and are prepared to regulate the number of tourists visiting the town’s tourism spots if needed.

Del Carmen tourism officer Leilani Lipio said as many as 1,500 visitors were expected in the town until Maundy Thursday alone, and around 2,000 to 3,000 more were expected on Good Friday and Black Saturday.

Lipio said they have already regulated the number of tourists allowed at Sugba Lagoon to 300 at most per batch or every three hours. Afterward, the boats either return to the tourism center or proceed to the two other island destinations – Pamomoan Beach and Kawhagan Island.

Del Carmen is known for its ecotourism destinations, and its local government has been strict when it comes to environmental conservation.

Boat, Canoe, Canoeing
SUGBA LAGOON. Tourists kayak to get around Sugba Lagoon in Del Carmen, Siargao. Ivy Marie Mangadlao/Rappler
Measures in place

Dumadag said the Department of Transportation (DOTr) has been helping with enhancing security measures at local seaports and airports, managing the influx of tourists, organizing queues, and streamlining procedures to prevent extensive waiting lines.

She said the DOT also tapped local disaster risk reduction operation centers to set up calling centers and ensure that personnel are available to respond in case of emergencies.

Dumadag said much of the focus has been on Siargao Island given its stature as a major tourism draw in the region.

“The DOT regional satellite office in General Luna will remain open throughout Holy Week to monitor tourist arrivals, accommodation bookings, oversee major destinations on the island, and attend to tourists’ concerns,” she said. –

Ivy Marie Mangadlao is a community journalist writing for Mindanews and an Aries Rufo Journalism fellow for 2023-2024.

Add a comment

Sort by

There are no comments yet. Add your comment to start the conversation.

Summarize this article with AI

How does this make you feel?

Download the Rappler App!