Western Visayas Tourism Update-A A +A
By Ver Pacete
As I See It
Thursday, August 29, 2013
I WAS given the opportunity to interact with lawyer Helen J. Catalbas, Department of Tourism (DOT)-Western Visayas regional director. She was emphatic in providing us Western Visayas tourism updates. She acknowledged the support of the Association of Tourism Officers of Negros Occidental in the implementation of the regional tourism program based on Republic Act (RA) No. 9593, the Tourism Act of 2009.
This is our bible in tourism industry. It is an act that declares a national policy for tourism as an engine of investment, employment, growth and national development, and it strengthens the DOT and its attached agencies to effectively and efficiently implement that policy, and most importantly appropriates fund. This is not pork-dependent.
RA 9593 mandates that the tourism industry should have excellent tourism planning and product development; tourism promotion and marketing; tourism standards and services; and tourism information, assistance and training. For the 2012 tourist arrivals, Western Visayas has a total of 3,099,018. Negros Occidental has a share of 564,167 and Bacolod City contributes 449,455. Next to Boracay, Negros Occidental and Bacolod City have given a big turn-out. Congratulations!
The top five foreign tourists coming to Western Visayas (Jan. to Dec. 2012) are Koreans (209,795), Taiwanese (94,407), Chinese (87,594), Americans (30,606), and Australians (17,869). Our overseas Filipinos coming back for a vacation have reached 58,169. Again, congratulations for the best effort. Our tourism officers in the LGUs should submit up to date and accurate statistics from our hotels, pension houses, and bed and breakfast facilities (home stay program).
Our regional plans and programs are also anchored on the National Tourism Development Plan (2013-2016). In 2016, we aspire to have 10 million international visitors and 56 million domestic travelers. To achieve our targets, we must have strategic directions. We need to develop and market competitive tourism products and destinations; improve market access, connectivity and destination infrastructure; and improve tourism institutional governance and human resources. In our implementation, there should be the clustering and convergence program.
We have the following Tourism Development Areas (TDA): TDA 1 - Metro Iloilo and Guimaras; TDA 2 - Bacolod, Silay and Negros Occidental; TDA 3 - Boracay, Kalibo, and Northern Antique; and TDA 4 - Capiz. For Negros Occidental, we have identified our tourism products: nature-based tourism, cultural tourism, MICE tourism, health and wellness, cruise and nautical tourism, diving and marine sports tourism, and educational tourism.
To bring our province to the world, we have the intention (hopefully with a budget) to participate in international travel fairs and sales missions in Korea, Taiwan (on hold), China, USA, Russia, Japan, Germany, Malaysia, Canada and London (World Tourism Market on Nov. 4 to 7). We also want to reach other markets where Philippine carriers operate and access to other airline exits.
Negros Occidental should join in Philippine domestic fairs and events like North Phil Expo 2013 (Nov. 15 to 17), Philippine Travel Mart (Sept. 5 to 7), Cebu International Travel Expo (July 25 to 27), Travel Exchange (July 19 to 21), World Dive Expo and Exhibition Philippines (April 17 tp 21), Sights and Sounds Exhibit (May 17), Pamunit Festival Diving Exhibit (May 18 to 19), and Paraw Regatta (Feb. 23 to 24).
We cannot do all these without collateral materials. We need surgery in the printing and distribution worldwide of Western Visayas maps. There should be paid advertisements in TV, print and radio. Our brochures should be included in convention kits and international sales mission. We have to produce attractive and information-loaded flyers for distribution.
Let us be good hosts to visiting foreign and Philippine travel writers and TV program producers. We open our hearts and LGU doors to visiting travel agents and tour operators. Our airports and seaports should have world standards VIP reception. We prove to tourists that Western Visayas is always the best. Let’s have more fun and surprises.
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on August 30, 2013.