TOURISM is an industry that is contributing positively to the economy of Negros Occidental amid the challenges hounding the sugar industry today, a top provincial official said.
Vice Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson, who spoke at the 17th Provincial Tourism Week opening rites held at the Capitol Social Hall in Bacolod City yesterday, said with the “ups and downs” in the sugar industry, the province can actually bank on tourism as potential alternative industry.
He cited competitions triggered by high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) as one challenge currently affecting the sugar industry and its stakeholders.
“It is already happening, tourism is actually contributing a lot to our economy,” Lacson said, adding that being the second most visited province in the country “we need to analyze how we got there and how to further improve.”
The vice governor stressed the need for the province to find more areas that can be promoted, as he urged each local government units (LGU) to come up with at least one major tourist destination.
“Through this, we can be able to provide tourists more places to visit,” Lacson said. “We need first to work here before we can invite more people to come to the province.”
The Provincial Government is also positioning food as another tourism product and offering that can be further developed.
Aside from various tourist attractions like Mambukal Mountain Resort in Murcia, The Ruins in Talisay City and resorts in Sipalay City, Negros dishes like blue crabs of E.B. Magalona, dried fish of Cadiz City, and “puto” of Manapla, among others on top of the chicken inasal of Bacolod City are also seen to complement the tourism industry.
In terms of peace and order, Lacson pointed out that given its ranking as one of the most visited places the province, including Bacolod City, is still a safe place for tourists.
The lack of accommodation facilities like hotels can be an area for investments, he added.
“We hope that someday, Negros Occidental can also be an international tourist destination,” Lacson said.
Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr., in a message, said he believes that tourist destinations have been one of the major factors why the province continues to be on the uphill climb in terms of economic development.
Negros Occidental, including Bacolod City, ranked second in terms of number of tourist arrivals in Region 6, with almost P32 billion in tourism receipts in 2016.
Data obtained by SunStar Bacolod from the Department of Tourism in Western Visayas showed that almost 1.65 million domestic and foreign tourists visited the province last year. The figure is 14 percent higher than the almost 1.42 million arrivals in 2015.
“Tourism provides a wide range of economic opportunities to many of our people,” Marañon added.
Provincial Supervising Tourism Operations Officer Cristine Mansinares said one of the strategies to really promote the province is by clustering the attractions.
She said they divided the province into north Negros, metro north, south central, and southern Negros.
“We merged cities and municipalities offering various attractions and activities under each cluster,” Mansinares said, adding that each locality is highlighted. “It must not be attraction only, it can be extended to food or services.”
Aside from tourism, other industry seen to also complement the sugar industry is agriculture including farming and fisheries.