NEGROS Occidental is eyeing to return to its pre-pandemic status, specifically as the third most visited province in Western Visayas, an official said yesterday, September 19.

Provincial Administrator Atty. Rayfrando Diaz II, who attended the Tourism Week celebration opening at the Ayala Malls Capital Central in Bacolod City yesterday, said that this year’s theme "Rethinking Tourism" incorporates "responsibility with sustainable development."

“If we could get a big share of incoming guests coming into the country, that will be our target, '' he said.

Diaz noted that the province has started to organize tourism groups to digitize so that guests can see online what they can expect in Negros Occidental.

Likewise, through online, guests can make reservations and pay as well as choose tour packages, the provincial administrator added.

“Later on we can have all our hotels, the Mambukal Resort and Wildlife Sanctuary and Negros Residences can be booked online," he disclosed.

Meanwhile, the official said the information and communication technology (ICT) section has been tasked to put up an application online so that when the influx of tourists comes, the tourism sector in the province will be at its peak.

Currently, among the top tourist destinations in Negros Occidental is the Capitol-run Mambukal Resort which was recently turned into a wildlife sanctuary.

“(Tourism) is not just for leisure or recreation, it includes protection and preservation of the flora and fauna in the area,” Diaz stressed.

He explained that the provincial government wants to inculcate to all tourism officers in Negros Occidental that “while we accept guests, we should also take care of nature, take care of our garbage, take care of their impact in communities where they go.”

Diaz also said that tourism has economic benefits "it should trickle down to communities where tourism is happening since it is the thrust of Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson.”*