Two years ago, before the pandemic era, the Province of Tawi-Tawi had already gained considerable benefits along its tourism programs and development.
Thousands of inbound tourists, both national and international, came along the shores of the island province and its communities because it provides the basic components namely: a.) attraction b.) accessibility, c.) accomodation and d.) amenities. The first component consists of the physical assets that the province has that includes hundreds of white beaches scattered in 11 of its municipalities and some very important cultural heritages. The iconic Panampangan island beach, considered to have the longest sandbar in the country, is located in the municipality of Sapa-Sapa. The Sheik Makhdum Mosque of Bohé Indangan in Simunul and Balobok Cave are considered and recognized as international historical and cultural landmarks. Not to be outdone is the Bud Bongao Peak which is at the center of the province’s capital which is known for its ‘mystics’ and forest reservation. The latter is still the most visited landmark even in this time of pandemic.
Bongao is accessible via a commercial ship line from Zamboanga City. There used to be flights daily from Zamboanga City, which is the take-off point from major cities like Manila, Cebu City and Davao City bringing tourists into the town. However, today only two flights daily per week, which conform with health protocols and ‘quarantine’ requirements imposed by IATF.
Accommodation is well provided in the area as there are five major hotels and resorts and inns in the town of Bongao. Homestays are available in some of the nearby island municipalities.
Amenities such as cottages, transportation ( both land and sea crafts) can be had and provided by tourism agencies and private entities.
Securities of visiting and domestic tourists are provided for by the government entities like military establishments upon request from the Provincial Tourism Office who supervises and monitors the movements of tourists going outside of the town of Bongao.
Just like any places around the country, tourism drastically reduced in terms of the number of tourists coming into the province. But looking into the current situation, especially when vaccination for Covid19 had been implemented and administered to the residents of the province, it will not take long for the tourism industry to regain its former status as one of the most visited places by tourists in the BARMM area. (JRL)