The SouthCot Eco-Challenge on November 11th

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / Nov 3) – Frontliners from various Local Government Units (LGU) in South Cotabato will be the focus of this year’s edition of the region’s famous tourism adventure race on Nov 11.

Francisco Cerbo Jr., the event coordinator for the South Cotabato Arts, Culture, Tourism, and Museum Unit, said Wednesday that final preparations are underway for the highly anticipated activity now dubbed the “Race to 11 Eco-Challenge” will.

He said that they have improved and expanded this year’s event to showcase the tourist attractions of the province’s 10 cities and the lonely city.

Over the past four years, the event has become known as the “Race to 7 Eco-Challenge” based on the seven waterfalls of Lake Sebu Town.

“We have expanded the race to promote tourist attractions, culture and ecological diversity across South Cotabato. The adventure will cover all 11 locations in the province, ”Cerbo said in a virtual briefing hosted by the provincial information office.

He said 11 teams, representing each LGU, have registered for the race, which starts in the town of Polomolok and ends in their birthplace in Lake Sebu.

Each team consists of five members, each consisting of two men and two women and one from lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer or LGBTQ.

The teams each consist of a member of the local police force, the fire station, the rural health service, the civil protection and management office, the tourist office and each department or unit.

“All attendees are frontliners of the affected city or town,” Cerbo said, referring to individuals assigned by LGUs due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) response.

He said contestants must provide medical certificates to ensure they are physically fit to take part in the race and should be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Cerbo said the race will have challenges that need to be met by the teams as they pass each location through a community immersion concept.

It includes running, trekking, canoeing, obstacle course navigation, tree planting, fishing, cooking, beading, and other chores.

“You will lead new routes to our tourist destinations, try out new outdoor adventure offers and experience our ecological biodiversity,” he said.

Rodel Hilado, Tboli City Tourism Officer and Head of South Cotabato’s Association of Tourism Officers, said all local governments would fully support the event.

“We are now making our respective preparations for the challenges and our showcases,” he said.

He said they hope the event will help usher in more major tourism events in the province as the region continues to adopt the “new normal” amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Tourist arrivals in the province have increased in recent months, reaching a total of 928,996 in the first three quarters of the year.

That number is much higher than the tourist arrivals during the same period or from January to September last year, which hit just 221,823 and hit just 400,511 by the end of 2020.

Before the pandemic, the province recorded 941,952 tourist arrivals in 2018 and 1,226,960 in 2019. (MindaNews)

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