THE top official of the Department of Tourism (DOT) in Western Visayas said tourism can save the economy of Negros Occidental, if the slump in the sugar industry continues.
Helen Catalbas, regional director of DOT-Western Visayas, said tourism is an industry that has no “season” thus it can stand in both dry and rainy seasons.
Catalbas said Negros Occidental is known for its festivals and islands, which are mostly outdoors.
During rainy season, the province can still become a destination for conventions and other indoor events, she said.
“It is only a matter of shifting like choosing to have indoor events as many as we can during rainy season,” Catalbas said, adding that tourism industry, unlike sugar, is capable of creating economic activities anytime of the year.
Sugar industry leaders in the province had earlier slammed anew the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) for the significant decrease in the prices of domestic sugar.
Last January 30, the Sugar Alliance of the Philippines (SAP), in a statement, said the SRA has allowed the unregulated entry of 280,000 metric tons of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) at the start of the current milling season.
“This directly resulted to the low sugar prices at the start of the crop year,” the SAP said, noting that there was a difference of P400 per 50-kilo bag, as prices went down from P1,650 to P1,250.
Even the Provincial Government has already recognized tourism as an industry that is contributing positively to the economy of Negros Occidental amid the challenges hounding the sugar industry.
Vice Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson had earlier said with the “ups and downs” in the sugar industry, the province can actually bank on tourism as potential alternative industry.
“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.”
Based on the partial report of DO-Western Visayas, tourist arrivals in Negros Occidental, including Bacolod City is pegged at almost 1.7 million in 2017.
The figure forms part of the total arrivals of about 5.5 million in the region.
Catalbas expressed confidence that tourism can save the economy of Negros Occidental if there would be major downfall in the sugar industry.
“Negros Occidental is a multi-market destination thus, slump in sugar industry can be covered by tourism,” she added.