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Two years after the epidemic, Surigao Sur town revives its tourist

Two years after the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic outbreak, top officials in the town of Cagwait, Surigao del Sur, launched the four-day Kaliguan Festival on Friday and expressed optimism for stable tourism activities.

For the past 26 years, people have celebrated Kaliguan, a festival honoring the feast of St. John the Baptist.

At the height of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, Cagwait’s municipal tourism officer-designate, Jemelyn Coleto, bemoaned the decline in visitor numbers.

From 2017 to 2019, we observed a consistent rise in tourist arrivals. The number then drastically decreased in 2020,” Coleto stated in a Saturday interview.

According to information provided by the tourism agency, the town saw a total of 9,378 tourist arrivals in 2017, with 9,372 of them being locals and six being foreigners.

The figure grew to 11,007 in 2018, with all of the visitors being locals, and to 14,911 in 2019, with 49 foreign visitors and 14,862 local visitors.

4,471 fewer visitors (4,465 locals and 6 foreign tourists) arrived in the town in 2020.

“From April to July 2020, there are no arrivals. A few local tourists came to see us in the ensuing months of the year, according to Coleto.

She continued by saying that at least 17 recognized resorts and tourist attractions in the town suffered losses as a result of the pandemic.

Despite the continued dangers posed by Covid-19 and the installation of health measures in 2021, the number of visitors to the town increased.

According to Coleto, Cagwait was the only town in Surigao del Sur to open its hotels and resorts last year under tight health regulations.

She continued by saying that a virtual platform had made it easier to commemorate the Kaliguan Festival last year.

According to her, 25,743 tourists arrived overall last year, including 9 overseas visitors and 25,734 domestic visitors.

There were only one foreign visitor among the 8,594 tourists who visited Cagwait between January and May of this year.

The two months with the most arrivals throughout the first five months of this year were March (1,796) and January (1,670).

Coleto said the local authority hopes that more visitors will come to the town now that the warning levels have been lowered in the province and the majority of the country.

The local government has intensified its awareness campaign on the reopening of tourism in the area, Coleto said, adding that “our reports and establishments are now opening their doors to tourists and visitors.”

Mayor Lilian Lozada and Governor Alexander Pimentel of Surigao del Sur presided over the start of the 26th Kaliguan Festival on Friday.

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