Top officials in the town of Cagwait, Surigao del Sur are looking forward to steady tourism activities here two years after the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic outbreak as they opened the four-day Kaliguan Festival on Friday.
Kaliguan is a festivity that locals have been celebrating for the past 26 years that honors the Feast of St. John the Baptist.
Jemelyn Coleto, municipal tourism officer-designate of Cagwait, lamented the drop in tourist arrivals at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020.
“We recorded a steady increase in tourist arrivals from 2017 to 2019. Then the number went down significantly in 2020,” Coleto said in an interview on Saturday.
Data provided by the tourism office showed a total number of 9,378 tourist arrivals recorded in the town in 2017, with 9,372 of them locals while six were foreigners.
The number increased in 2018 to 11,007, all of which are local tourists, and went up to 14,911 in 2019, with 49 foreigners and 14,862 local tourists.
In 2020, a decline of 4,471 arrivals was recorded in the town with 4,465 locals and six foreign tourists.
“We have zero arrivals from April to July in 2020. In the next months during the year, a handful of local tourists visited our place,” Coleto said.
She added that the pandemic also incurred losses to at least 17 accredited tourist establishments and resorts in the town.
In 2021, the arrivals in the town went up despite the continuing threats of Covid-19 and the implementation of health protocols.
“Cagwait was the only town in Surigao del Sur last year that opened its tourist establishments and resorts with strict health protocols,” Coleto said.
The commemoration of the Kaliguan Festival last year, she added, was facilitated through a virtual platform.
A total of 25,743 tourist arrivals, with nine foreigners and 25,734 locals was also recorded last year, she said.
From January to May this year, tourist arrivals in Cagwait already reached 8,594 but with only one foreign tourist.
The highest number of arrivals during the first five months this year was recorded in March with 1,796 and in January with 1,670.
With the lowering of the alert levels in the province and most areas in the country, Coleto said the local government hopes more visitors can visit the town.
“Our reports and establishments are now opening their doors to tourists and visitors,” Coleto said, adding that the local government has heightened its information drive on the reopening of tourism in the town.
The opening of the 26th Kaliguan Festival on Friday was led by Mayor Lilian Lozada and Surigao del Sur Governor Alexander Pimentel. (PNA)