SMALL producers in Western Visayas felt neglected and have not yet felt as being part of the big tourism industry. This was announced by Department of Tourism Regional Director Helen Catalbas during the opening of Panay Tour Specialist Inc. (PTSI) last Sunday, January 12, 2014 along Rizal Street in the city proper.

Catalbas stressed the need to attract more inbound tourists through tour operators as partners in the development of the local tourism industry and “to showcase what we have here and the rest of Panay Island.”

PTSI is a bold endeavor of 11 Ilonggo small entrepreneurs to provide a venue and tour itinerary for inbound tourists in Panay as the first wholesaler of inbound tours. It is also showcases the local products through a pasalubong center

Incorporator Dr. Mae Panes said the PTSI pasalubong center features marketing of local products from local producers in the countryside such as local coffee, chocolate grown in Panay, delicacies and other food products and house decors. Being near at the Iloilo terminal market, the food producers and tourists can meet and talk through a cup of delicious Ilonggo coffee at the center.

Catalbas said that DOT is massively promoting the program Western Visayas First for local tourists to travel within the region and to showcase the local products. However, the small producers in the countryside have not appreciated their value as partners in the local tourism industry.

“We have so much to offer to the local tourists. We have natural and man-made tourism attractions and facilities and the time is ripe now in promoting our own products and services,” Catalbas said.

The DOT has accredited 12 travel and tour guides for inbound tours and plans are underway for trainings of more accredited tour guides within this year.