As a city that has no natural wonders for tourists to visit, it pulls a surprise when Tagum City still puts premium on tourism development as an indispensable tool in achieving sustainable development. As a matter of fact, the City Government of Tagum has put primary importance in the inclusion of tourism development as a driver for economic growth. As such, the City Government of Tagum has included in its development agenda the mechanisms that highlight how it harnesses the power of tourism as an important component in advancing its vision to becoming “a highly urbanized city, moving towards industrialization and agriculture modernization, providing globally competitive trade and services in a disaster-resilient environment, with empowered citizenry, enjoying a better quality of life in a livable society through good governance under the guidance of the Divine Providence” (LGU’s vision statement). Meanwhile, the role of tourism was also highlighted in the mission statement of the City Government of Tagum. It was stated that it plays a unique role in pursuing “sustainable growth and development through highly-competitive industries and accessible services and opportunities under good governance for a better quality of life.” Using these as as a springboard which are highlighted in the local government’s Comprehensive Land Use Plan, the City Government of Tagum also adopted a ten-point development agenda called the EAGLE WINGS Development Program, which laid the development blueprint of the local government. Under this ten-point development agenda, tourism development was listed as one of the areas of development for the city, thereby magnifying the local government’s earnest desire to maximize the utilization of tourism as a driver for growth and development as anchored in the city’s mission, vision and goals.
Strategically located in Southern Philippines, Tagum City considers itself as a City in Perfect Harmony. The city is home to 273,912 individuals spread over the city’s 19,580 hectares’ land area. While it is largely agricultural, the city’s economic growth is primarily driven by trade and services. Due to its bullish economy, the city is considered as among the Most Competitive Cities in the Philippines and has been declared by the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy as an “Emerging Secondary City.” The city packages itself as a city of many brands, foremost of which as being the “Music Capital of the South” and the “Home of Festivals.” This was largely driven by the local government’s earnest desire to harness the power of creativity and music as a tool for an economic revitalization. Alongside this, the city also values the preservation of culture and tradition. Notably, the city is inhabited by people of different cultural backgrounds.
Over the years, the city has invested in the implementation of nine festivals a year and institutionalization of cultural programs, and building the needed infrastructure to sustain it. The primary importance given to music and other creative fields is evident. This puts into the spotlight the vision of the City Government of Tagum in improving the local tourism industry not just for the sake of gathering tourists but also as an important pre-cursor for development across all segments of the society. This is considered a major investment due to the fact that the City of Tagum is not endowed with natural wonders that are at par with other well-known tourist spots being frequented by foreign and local tourists alike. What it lacked in natural resources, it made up through innovation, a push that was supported by the private sector. The participation of the private sector was achieved because of the local government’s aggressive and pro-active stance on tourism development as evidenced by both short-term and long-term plans. This pursuit is supported with the prominent inclusion of tourism programs and projects that are highlighted in the local government’s Annual Investment Plan (short-term plan) and the Comprehensive Land Use Plan (long-term plan). The latter is a landmark piece of documents that sets the guideline for development of Tagum City until the year 2025 and it included a roadmap that will be undertaken by the local government in the area of tourism development, among other things.