THE Department of Tourism (DOT)-Western Visayas has declared the Iloilo City as one of the top tourist destinations in the country and second to Boracay Island with most number of events, facilities and hotels.
DOT Regional Director Helen Catalbas said Iloilo City is ready to accommodate foreign tourists, adding that there are some 3,000 hotel rooms in the city.
The Negros Occidental province and Bacolod City follow in terms of hotel accommodations while the province of Capiz specializes in boutique hotels aside from its seafood dishes.
Catalbas said the tourism department is also considering the implementation of cultural heritage tourism program in Iloilo City’s downtown area and at the old central business district by presenting the tourism attraction of more than 50 heritage commercial buildings.
The DOT official said the walk-through tourism program is very popular in European countries and the foreign tourists will enjoy the site in Iloilo City.
Six big buildings along Calle Real were already renovated and more buildings are slated for renovation to make the area a heritage site.
DOT reported that visitor arrivals in Western Visayas reached 2.1 million in partial report for 2012. The top five markets are: Korea with a total of 184,992 arrivals; Taiwan with 93,407; China with 84,186; United States with 20,603; and Australia with 15,237.
The arrivals report at the Iloilo International Airport in November 2012 totaled to 1,510, which was doubled to 3,219 arrivals in December 2012 due to the opening of direct international flights with leading arrivals of Filipinos especially overseas contract workers and from Singapore, USA, Australia, Korea, and China.
Catalbas said more than one million Korean tourists are expected to travel in Asian countries in 2013 and the Philippines will have a major share of the tourists.