Editorial: Raising the ante for tourism programs

INDEED, the sudden transfer of Tourism Regional Director Robert Alabado III to medical tourism has caught the region flat-footed in the same way as the transfer of Soccsksargen Regional Director Nelly Dillera has.

Whatever prompted Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo to go into such a major revamp has not been explained, but we understand the resentment and consequent unpopularity of such move.

While we cannot attest for the others who were arbitrarily transferred, we know Alabado and Dillera as among the most hard-working and culturally-connected regional directors the two regions can ever have and they have already a well laid out tourism plan. But then, who are we when it's the Tourism Secretary who said they must move out and fill up the positions waiting for them.

"I decided to exercise my prerogative to reassign 22 DOT directors and five Officers-in-Charge, to posts where they would flourish, getting them out of their 'comfort zone' to widen opportunities and networks and to face new challenges towards higher creativity and innovation," Teo said.

She added, "With the vision of realizing a truly sustainable and inclusive tourism program, I believe this new challenge should propel us to yet another record-breaking year for the Philippine tourism industry."

Given that, then we expect nothing less of new Regional Director Antonio Fernando Blanco, formerly of Zamboanga Region, whom we have not heard of before.

Here's to hoping that Blanco will develop the full potentials of Davao tourism and not just ride on the region's popularity because of the President and because of the collective efforts of local tourism officials and the dynamic regional officials who came before him. There is no place in the region for people who will just swim along.

The challenge is how to make the region a world-class destination with world-class facilities and experiences while preserving its natural come-ons and bringing to fore its diverse culture and environment and people.

With the major strides the region has made in tourism, there is no room for anyone to slacken. So... let's wait and see and make sure that the whip that has been cracking through the years will be cracked harder. The region is more than just a veritable tourist destination, its major draw is its people and natural resources. Let us keep a collective eye on how these are developed to their full potential without exploiting or destroying either or both.
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