Interim tourism council chair sits

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Thursday, January 20, 2011


BACOLOD City Mayor Evelio R. Leonardia has appointed former Bacolod City Lone District Representative and Tourism Attaché to the Americas Atty. John N. Orola Jr. as interim chairman of the City Tourism & Cultural Development Council.

The council, which held its first meeting Tuesday, is tasked with strengthening the city's tourism program.

Present at the meeting were city officials headed by Mayor Leonardia, Councilors Homer Bais and Carl Lopez, as well as council members, namely City Tourism officer Imogene Kana-an, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Director Eduardo Basinang, Engineer Allan Agbones of the City Engineer's Office, Information Officer Rogelio Giganan, P/Supt. Pedrito Esquilla representing Bacolod City Police Director Celestino Guara, Atty. Orola who represented Tourism/HTM Schools accredited by the Technical Educational and Skills Development Authority; Pinky Hautea of the Network of Independent Travel Agencies; Fred Ea of the Tourist Transport Group; Eli Francis Tajanlangit of the Silver MassKara Organization Inc., and Mellie Kilayko of the Association of Negros Producers.

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Leonardia wanted the group to focus on the balikbayans and the visiting Koreans and on the thrust of making the city the convention center of choice in Western Visayas.

Bacolodnons are hospitable and the city's existing hotels, comparatively speaking, can compete with the rest of Western Visayas, he added.

"We can position the city as the convention center of Western Visayas," he said.

The council members also discussed the establishment of a "strong balikbayan" program, which entails taking an inventory of the balikbayans all over the world and rekindling the spirit of camaraderie and family among those from Bacolod City.

If other towns can come up with a balikbayan night during their festivities, Bacolod can also do the same, considering that the city has a bigger number of Bacolodnons living or working abroad, said the mayor.

Another thing that struck Leonardia was the presence of the Koreans in the city. He told the members of the tourism council that the city should capitalize on the presence of the Koreans in Bacolod by giving them marketing incentives.

"As their numbers increase in the country, Bacolod can increase our share of Koreans coming to our city," Leonardia said.

The Korean visitors can be a big help in boosting Bacolod's economy, he added.

"We want them to feel comfortable in staying in our city. They can become our ambassadors of goodwill. They can promote our city when they go back to Korea," he said. (Carla N. Canet)

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on January 20, 2011.

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