Mountain tourism

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Friday, July 11, 2014


WELCOME to Negros Occidental. “Experience a happy blending of cosmopolitan and rustic lifestyle in Negros Occidental, the sugar capital of the Philippines and aiming to be the Organic Food Bowl of Asia,” says the website of the Province of Negros Occidental.

Well, not quite the description of “sugar capital.” That is so 20th century. But the times they’re a changing.

On the organic side, Negros Occidental Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr. urged Negrense farmers to focus on organic agriculture to better prepare for the challenge of the Asian Free Trade Agreement when tariffs on imported agricultural products would be very low starting next year.

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Go Negros Occidental, go organic!

Moreover, the province’s website cited the reasons for visiting the province: to celebrate nature’s blessings, especially our mountain resources. Go hiking and camping, fishing and angling, and mountain biking.

Let me echo from the website the exciting places that Negros Occidental has to offer for visitors. We have a wide array of beautiful scenic spots, parks, exotic resorts, mountains, caves and other natural wonders that offer potentials for private investment in tourism projects and related support services.

Go Negros Occidental, go sustainable development of its mountain resources!

With the passage of the National Tourism Act of 2009 or Republic Act 9593, the provincial tourism industry can be more globally competitive. Negros Occidental can tap into the opportunities offered by the implementation of this law that declares “a national policy for tourism as an engine of investment, employment, growth and national development.”

All the more reason for the province to network with global organizations like the Mountain Partnership so the province can promote and enjoy wide exposure to the global tourism market.

Recently, I emailed the Rome-based Mountain Partnership (MP) Secretariat. I mentioned that the province is preparing its annual organic program that will have as its theme “Developing the Provincial Green Economy.”

I said that since the MP has been in the forefront of the global campaign on promoting the sustainable development goals (SDGs) especially in the hinterlands, the organizing committee requested me to invite the Mountain Partnership Secretariat to join us in the festivities.

It will be the Negrense’s pride and honor if the MP can actively take part in the November event. In the previous organic fairs, the province has featured IFOAM guests and several fair trade organizations.

For 2014, it will be sustainable mountain development, and the province is gearing up and going up the slopes of our mountains to bring in not the terrorists but the tourists.

Negros Occidental is prioritizing support for domestic tourism and promote rural tourism through “Bed and Breakfast” (B & B) packages in clean, countryside homes with flowing water and sanitary restrooms, and without flies and mosquitoes. Guests can be served clean, home-cooked very reasonable native meals.

The province can also tap the culinary expertise of its internationally renowned chefs who can train various B & Bs to prepare international dishes.

This way, the multiplier effect of tourism can be felt by the community market, the tricycle or trisikad drivers, the sari-sari stores, and the rest of the neighborhood. For this program to succeed, the province is preparing the stakeholders with capacity-building workshops to develop tourism-friendly communities even in the uplands.

Go sustainable mountain tourism, go Negros Occidental!

*****

(bqsanc@yahoo.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on July 11, 2014.

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