BACOLOD City edged out Iloilo City in terms of tourist arrivals last year, registering almost P15-billion worth of tourism receipts, the Department of Tourism (DOT) in Western Visayas reported.
Partial 2017 Western Visayas Visitor Arrival Report furnished by DOT-Western Visayas to SunStar Bacolod over the weekend showed that Negros Occidental's capital city catered to 761,850 tourists last year.
The figures comprised 69,337 foreign and 692,513 domestic tourists, the reports said.
Iloilo City, meanwhile, initially posted 639,894 tourist arrivals in 2017. It comprised 21,278 foreign, 618,251 domestic, and 365 tourists with
In terms of tourism receipts, or the value spent by tourists during their stay, Iloilo City earned almost P12 billion.
For the whole of 2016, Iloilo City had higher number of tourist arrivals than Bacolod City.
Bacolod and Iloilo are the two high-urbanized cities in Western Visayas.
The 2016 reports of DOT-Western Visayas showed that Bacolod hosted only 799,224 domestic and foreign visitors, lower than Iloilo's tourist arrivals of 994,923.
DOT-Western Visayas Director Helen Catalbas told SunStar Bacolod the 2017 partial reports represent about 70 percent of the total tourist arrivals last year.
The agency will release the final report soon, Catalbas said, adding that initial rankings based on the partial tourist arrivals may still change.
"We have set the deadline for all provinces in Western Visayas, to submit the complete report until February 15," she added.
Partial reports further showed that Aklan, which hosts Boracay Island, still ranked first with about 2.16 million tourist arrivals, having tourism receipts worth P59.2 billion.
For tourist arrivals, following are Negros Occidental with 199,528; Capiz - 156,238; Antique - 131,828; Guimaras - 100,717; and Iloilo Province - 72,119.
These figures form part of 4.22 million partial tourist arrivals of Western Visayas last year with tourism receipts amounting to about P98 billion, the reports added.
The region still needs almost one million additional tourist arrivals to surpass the 5.19 million record in 2016, when in terms of tourism receipts, the region earned about P114 billion.
Negros Occidental Supervising Tourism Operations Officer Cristine Mansinares said the partial report only covers about 15 percent of the province's total tourist arrivals.
She said that amid the "disturbing" events, including terrorism, insurgency, and criminal activities that could impact negatively to the tourism industry, the Provincial Government remained hopeful to increase the number of tourists.
"Domestic tourism propelled 96 percent of our visitor arrivals in 2016 and Negros remains safe as a destination with increased security measures," Mansinares added.
Bacolod City Tourism Officer Maria Elma Gerasmo earlier said that the initial data reported by DOT-Western Visayas only covers tourist arrivals from January to November 2017.
With the strong tourism inflow in December, Gerasmo said they are optimistic to reach the target 20 percent increase last year.
The higher tourist arrivals can be attributed to the city's hosting of various national conventions augmenting the visitor influx during summer season and MassKara Festival, she added.