SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews / 25 March) – The provincial government here is bracing for the influx of around 2,500 tourists that will visit Siargao Island and other scenic spots of Surigao del Norte for the entire duration of the Holy Week.
Ivonnie B. Dumadag, Surigao del Norte provincial tourism officer, said they are expecting more than the number of guests the province had last year.
“We expect more guests to arrive since we also have a prior activity which started on Saturday. We already have 1,000 volunteers for the five-day Bayani Challenge which will be held in the town of Del Carmen in Siargao Island. Then next week we expect around 1,500 more visitors arriving,” said Dumadag.
Volunteers for Gawad Kalinga’s Bayani Challenge, which is being held simultaneously in 34 provinces all over the country, will be building 30 houses for the poor in Siargao.
Dumadag explained that she has received information that most of the resorts in the island have already been booked ahead.
“Several reservations have already been confirmed, but we expect more to come since we have seen the trend from the previous years,” she said, noting that tourist arrival from 2011 to 2012 increased 22 percent.
The tourism officer pointed out that visitors need not worry where to stay since this year alone six additional resorts opened, each with a capacity of 30 people. “We have a total of 74 resorts, including homestay accommodations, for the entire Siargao,” she added.
Lieutenant Commander Joel Simo-ag, Coast Guard chief for Surigao del Norte, said they are now on heightened alert.
“We have already dispatched our personnel and K-9 units to secure the different ports here in Surigao City and in the islands of Siargao and Dinagat. Here in the city alone we have set up three passenger assistance centers in case travellers would require assistance,” said Simo-ag.
He explained that the increase in the number of passengers crossing the island during Holy Week would not just be tourists. “Since it is a long holiday, thousands of islanders who are working here in Surigao City and other parts of Mindanao will also be going back to their respective hometowns. Even though our personnel are thinly stretched out, we have to implement proper measures to avert incidents for the travelling vessels,” Simo-ag added.
The Surigao City Police Office has likewise placed its personnel on alert.
Insp. Tessiel Rubi Moleta, community relations officer, stated that they are expecting a large number of people to flock to the bus and ferry boat terminals and to the churches.
“We will set up police assistance centers throughout Surigao City. The most number of people will surely come on Wednesday, Thursday and then on Easter Sunday when the beaches will be crowded,” said Moleta.
She further said that 50 to 60 personnel will be assigned on the port and terminals, while others will be patrolling along the streets, especially during nighttime.
“We will also conduct information drive through distribution of leaflets to inform them of safety guidelines,” she said. (Erwin Mascariñas / MindaNews)