STA. CRUZ, Davao del Sur — Tourism in this municipality has recorded an 11% surge in tourist arrivals, reaching 248,968 in 2023, up from 224,473 in the previous year, according to the local tourism and information office.

“The increase can be attributed to our aggressive marketing and promotions campaign,” said tourism information officer Julius R. Paner, noting the rise as a consolidation of the visitor numbers for such attractions as Lantawan sa Matutungan, Mt. Fortune View, and Tajos Beach, among others.

The introduction of the Sta. Cruz Trailblazer Award, rewarding those visiting seven key sites in a year, also contributed to the upswing. The designated sites are Mt. Apo, Mt. Dinor, Mt. Loay, Bamboo Peak, Mt. Fortune View, Tomari Waterfalls, and Saliducon Cave.

Despite stiff competition, the tourism office views the increase as a significant milestone. The local government is actively implementing new marketing strategies to outshine neighboring regions and plans to sustain this momentum in the coming years.

In 2023, this municipality achieved a milestone by reaching a million tourists in just 13 years, marking a remarkable achievement for the local government. — Maya M. Padillo