Sanchez: Come-ons

NEGROS Occidental is doing it right. It has beat Boracay and its white sands as a tourist destination. Or Palawan and its El Nido. Or Cebu and its whale shark watching.

The province has beach resorts and nature offerings aside from festivals like Bacolod’s MassKara, San Carlos’s Pintaflores, Kabankalan’s Sinulog, and Cadiz’s Dinagsa which draw big crowds every year.

According to the Negros Occidental Tourism Division (NOTD) trotted out figures in 2017, arrivals composed of 1,609,066 domestic tourists, 114,686 foreigners, and 381 overseas Filipinos.

My development colleague Cristine Mansinares, provincial supervising tourism operations officer, said the majority of the tourists visited the cities of Bacolod, Sipalay, San Carlos, Kabankalan, Cadiz and Talisay, and the municipality of Murcia.

Mansinares said the increase in the province’s tourist arrivals could also be attributed to the hosting of meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions (Mice) in the past year.

Most likely. I should know. Every week, I attend the praise and worship of the Light of Jesus Family, more popularly known as The Feast, a Catholic charismatic community. We have been bumped once or twice out of SMX to make way for Apec.

The Lord’s loss, the province’s gain? I won’t go for a debate on that. Give to Caesar what’s his, and to God what’s for him.

The 2016 Household Survey on Domestic Visitors (HSDV) of the Philippine Statistics Authority and Department of Tourism pinpointed Negros Occidental in July 2017 as the second most visited place in the country by Filipino domestic travelers.

In that survey, National Capital Region came in first (not surprising there), Negros Occidental outranked Pangasinan, Cavite, Quezon, Bohol, Cebu, Camarines Sur, Laguna, and Leyte in the list of top 10 most visited places.

The Philippines – and Negros Occidental – could perhaps compete with other Southeast Asian countries. Think winter tourism when Westerners escape the cold temperatures in their home countries. They get their tan from a tropical climate sunbathing in many beaches in Sipalay, Hinobaan, Sagay, and Cadiz.

After all, the come-ons in Southeast Asia, according to Touropia, target European tourists who are active, adventuresome travelers, who want to trek through steamy jungles, dive in some of the world’s best coral reefs, camp or go whitewater rafting on new rivers.

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