The Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) led the ceremonial turnover of the Comprehensive Tourism Master Plan (CTMP) of Siargao Islands on 23 June 2022 held in General Luna, Surigao del Norte. The ceremony was graced by outgoing Surigao del Norte Governor Francisco T. Matugas and provincial officers as well as TIEZA Board of Directors.

Envisioned to be “a world-class destination that preserves the environment, celebrates Siargaonon people and values, and provides authentic visitor experiences”, the tourism master planning of the entire Siargao Islands is one of the proactive efforts of TIEZA in the rehabilitation and development of tourist destinations in the country.

TIEZA Chief Operating Officer Mark T. Lapid thanked all the stakeholders for their active participation in the crafting of the masterplan which includes the Provincial Government of Surigao del Norte, the local government units in Siargao Island and their officers, DOT XIII Regional Office and other resource persons. “It is our hope that the CTMP shall be of vital use for the people of Siargao towards the establishment of Siargao Islands as a sustainable tourism destination, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic and the destruction caused by Typhoon Odette,” he said in his Opening Remarks.

Located 800 kilometers southeast of Manila and situated off the northeastern coast of Mindanao, Siargao has 62,796 hectares of land area and a marine area of 216,118 hectares, which totals to 278,914 hectares of protected landscape and seascape. By virtue of Presidential Proclamation No. 902, the area is classified as a wildlife sanctuary and is now referred to as Siargao Islands Protected Landscapes and Seascapes (SIPLAS).

SIPLAS remains to be the most visited tourism destination in the province of Surigao del Norte because of its endowed natural attractions such as long stretch of fine white sand beaches, rock formations, lagoons, lakes, springs, caves, and vast area of mangrove forests. As such, it is vital to conduct comprehensive studies and planning in the area in order to maximize its tourism potential but with high regard to its natural environment. As provided in Section 6(o) of Republic Act No. 9593, TIEZA shall provide technical assistance to local government units (LGUs) in destination development, standard setting, and regulatory enforcement. TIEZA undertook the preparation of the CTMP for SIPLAS through funding from the General Appropriations Act and procured the consultancy services of Palafox Associates.

The CTMP consists of two (2) main strategies, namely the tourism framework strategy and tourism development strategy.

Among the considerations for the tourism framework strategy are the growth markets which include existing and potential tourism markets; enhancing the visitor experience, persevering the natural and cultural resources, providing authentic tourist experience, and continuous improvement of the local’s capabilities as well as necessary infrastructure that would increase the competitiveness of Siargao Islands as a world-class destination.
Meanwhile, the tourism development strategy recommended the clustering of Siargao Islands into eight Tourism Management Areas: (1) General Luna referred to as “The Surf Town”; (2) Dapa to be known as “Island Capital”; (3) two barangays of Esperanza as “Gateway and Innovation Hub”; (4) “Western Siargao” consisted of fifteen barangays of Pilar; (5) “Game-Fishing Capital” made up of Pilar’s other fifteen barangays; (6) Burgos and San Isidro as “Nature and Surf Destination”; (7) six barangays of San Benito making up the “Northern Gateway”; and (8) Socorro as “Eco-Adventure Island”.

Other sections of the CTMP include discussions on the Carrying Capacity, Biodiversity Conservation and Protection Plan, Climate Change & Disaster Risk Reduction Management, Sectoral Recommendations, and Tourism Recovery Advisory.

At present, TIEZA has completed and approved the tourism master planning projects of Siargao Islands, Maribojoc Island in Bohol, Fourth District of Leyte, and Corregidor and surrounding islands. TIEZA is also currently undertaking the master planning projects of Bantayan Island and Camotes Island.