Wellness Tourism focuses on traveling for the purpose of promoting health and well-being through physical, psychological, environmental or spiritual inter-cultural activities.
Promoting Tourism in Mindanao
Prime ProjX is working to harness the power tourism in southern Mindanao, Philippines into a positive force in the world by targeting the resilient and strong millennial tourist market in Ireland. It creates custom-designed interactive journeys and support community wellness and development projects in partnership with local organisations in Ireland and southern regions of Mindanao which include Davao, Saranggani Province, and General Santos City in the Philippines. Its goal is to travel for the purpose of promoting health and wellbeing through physical and cultural sharing activities by inspiring young Irish travelers to immerse and get involved with the local cultures in the Philippines and be a responsible and a positive influence in the places they visit. Likewise, it aims to empower Filipino locals to take charge of tourism in their communities and engage foreigners to their Philippine roots and cultural heritage. Both host and guest participants will share best practices in their sport, industry, or specialisation, and arm each other with inspiring tools in order to cope with changes taking place “glocally” in Ireland and the Philippines, which directly impact their sociocultural and economic lives.
Mindanao: The Land of Promise
Mindanao is the second largest and the southernmost island of the Philippines. It is also known as the Land of Promise because of its lush forests and vegetation, natural resources, and rich biodiversity. The massive island at the foot of the Philippine archipelago is in many ways the cultural heart of the country, a place where indigenous tribes still farm their ancient homelands and Christians live alongside Muslims who first settled here in the fourteenth century. Contrary to popular perception, most of the island today with its jaw-dropping beaches, killer surf, rugged mountains and indigenous cultures living much as they have for centuries, is peaceful, friendly and stunningly beautiful.
Since 2013, nationals from 151 countries may enter the Philippines without a visa and stay for a maximum of thirty days, this up from the previous period of 21 days. For those visitors who want to stay longer the Bureau of Immigration developed the Long-Stay Visitor Visa Extension scheme to bolster tourism and draw more international travelers into the country; foreigners are now able to obtain a long-stay visa that is good for six months.
Mindanao Tourism Initiatives
• Go South Philippine Islands Campaign: The Department of Tourism (DOT) kicked off its “Go South Philippine Islands” campaign in Davao on February 2018 to showcase Mindanao’s beautiful and rich culture. The campaign is a strategic marketing of all regions in Mindanao to have a stronger and unified voice for the whole island as one tourism destination. It is a new, fresh articulation of the attributes of travel and the pinning of Mindanao tourism brand values such as fun, exotic and authentic. The Go South Philippine Islands will also be the banner campaign to be adopted by the Go Mindanao Bus.
• Go South – Go Mindanao Bus: DOT also launched the Go South-Go Mindanao Bus in May 2018 where buses plying from Manila brought foreign tourists, social media influencers, international and local media, national tour operators to Cagayan de Oro all the way to Davao. Pit stops include must-see tourist destinations, souvenir shops, cafe/restaurants, comfort rooms, and scenic spots. The buses are fully equipped with WIFI, USB ports, comfort room, TV screens, and reclining chairs.
• Tourist Information and Assistance Centres (TIAC): TIACS have been established to raise more awareness about beautiful sceneries and robust culture that can be experienced in the southern islands.
• Southern Storm Drills: A series of anti-terror exercises was pilot-tested in the Davao City where interagency and community preparedness will be tested and will address weaknesses in the event of a terror attack and other emergencies. The anti-terror drills would be replicated in other urban areas in the country. Special focus areas for the Southern Storm Drills would be vital infrastructure and facilities in the including airports, coastal areas and other entry points.
• The Philippine National Police, Philippine Army and Local Government Units have intensified their initiatives and actions to ensure the safety and security of both local and international visitors in the various areas. Nevertheless, for those tourists who are willing to travel the extra miles it is best to keep in mind that there are yet a few isolated strongholds of armed groups in the most Southern regions of Mindanao which oppose this latest peace agreement and are continuing their struggle for and independent Islamic state.
The target market niche are the millennials–the younger generation who loves fast-paced adventurous, one click action-packed life. Millenials are a strong and resilient tourist market. Despite the various terrorist incidents in different parts of the world and the declaration of Martial Law in Mindanao in 2017, they have remained an unaffected tourist market. They want a more “individualized” and immersive experience when they travel, one that will allow them to explore local cultures where they want to blend in, experience culture, habits, and people, and have unique adventures.