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About Town | The Great Spark Samar Launch

The province of Samar has made headlines for most unsettling of reasons.  But despite the devastating trials that sullied its rugged yet peaceful terrain, its people remained hopeful that a time will soon come when Samar shall be known for enduring past ordeals and emerging as a bastion of progress.

Samar Governor Sharee Ann Tan says "developing the province will take time... Slowly but surely, we're securing our hold thru community-based tourism - and currently, we're in the position of making sure we're ready to face the government the moment they ask us what kind of help we need."

This how the Spark Samar Development Agenda began.  An offshoot of the initial branding campaign that started in 2015, The Spark Samar Development Agenda is concerned with carrying out improvement initiatives and interconnected development programs that cut across the tourism value chain, to help the province advance, while championing sustainable growth.  Since the introduction of the Spark Samar campaign, Governor Tan was happy to report that the growth of their tourist arrivals grew from 118,018 in 2013 to 207,709 in 2016.

Through the campaign, the province was able to build tourism roads, farm to market roads, and new roads to geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas with high tourism potential.  With the support of the Department of Tourism and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, local communities are now being empowered, engaged, and equipped with skills needed to fortify the province's community-based tourism initiatives.

What's exciting and new for Samar

With help from the Tourism Infastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA), a plan to install lights at the famed San Juanico Bridge is now underway.  This is to set to astonish travelers within the year.

New attractions are also offered like the Tandaya Trail where tourists can now cross the iconic bridge and head to Santa Rita to try out the local delicacies at the San Juan Floating Restaurant and Boardwalk by the Bay.  Another view of the bridge can be had through kayaking the San Juanico Strait.  The expanded Tandaya Trail also features the exciting and thrill seeking Lobo Cave adventure, and a trip to see the majestic 50 meter wide Lulugayan Falls of Calbiga.

To spotlight Samar, Secret Kitchens was established.  A gastronomical excursion developed to address their absence of go to delicacies tourists can bring home as pasalubong.  An immersive indoor activity, Secret Kitchens allow guests to savor and take part in heirloom recipes hidden among Samarnon households-from the smoking of Calbayog tinapa to the processing of homemade queso.

The Secret Kitchens is also a project thats being developed in partnership with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department Of Science and Technology, and TESDA, as some of their products, like the dried fish, squid and danggit, to name a few are undergoing processes of being scaled up and ready for mass production.

A souvenir game named Lara was elevated, the souvenir banig brand named after the Waray word for 'weave'.  "Whatever income Lara produces, a percentage of it will go back to the weavers and another to developing the product," Governor Tan shares.

Going forward

The Spark Samar Development is also aligned with the National Livelihood Program, and it is hopeful that the vertical link will make it easy for the National Government to offer their support.

The Governor's goals right now is to come up with a Tourism Master Development Plan.  As the groundwork has already been laid out, they are continually unlocking the province's tourism fullest potential.  They plan it out carefully so that no harm comes to the priceless beauty that lies inside of Samar.  To counteract the perils of commercialized tourism,  Samarnons are now beginning to understand the value of waste management and environmental preservation.

To update yourself with whats to see in Samar, you may visit their facebook page here.