Local government units (LGUs) are encouraged to craft their tourism development plan as the province gears for the new normal.
“This is timely for next year. They can start planning right now on how they are going to do with their tourism promotions, especially that we are approaching the new normal. So hopefully, they are going to start their projects and their tourism initiatives,” Iloilo tourism officer Gilbert Marin said in an interview Tuesday.
He said currently, only the town of Calinog has formulated its plan.
Marin said he hoped more towns will seek the help of his office in coming up with the direction for their tourism sector.
Apart from crafting their tourism development plan, he also called on LGUs to start documenting their own attractions and help the provincial tourism office in campaigning for accommodation establishments, resorts, and farms most especially to secure permits and accreditation with the DOT.
He added they should take advantage of the free accreditation for the next three years.
“Our other resorts and farms are already open. We are campaigning for accreditation because if they get accredited with the DOT, they can already open. They will have a certificate of acceptance and will be allowed to receive guests but of course, the status is still 50 percent,” Marin said.
He added Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor Jr. is looking forward to seeing residents gradually going out of their houses as long as they observe the proper protocol, such as wearing face shields and face masks, observing social distancing, and frequent hand washing.
“The governor also would like to establish that people can now enjoy going out and can now visit attractions and sites as long as they observe the proper protocols. That they should not be afraid and not just stay home but they also have options that during weekends, they can go around different areas of the province,” he said.
Based on the data they received from DOT, 34 resorts in the province have permits to operate.
Last year, the province had 214 mainland and island accommodation establishments.
Meanwhile, Marin said he will be visiting this province’s fifth district this week to check on their readiness, especially that Gigantes Island in Carles and Tambaliza Island in the municipality of Concepcion were declared as eco-tourism zones.
He said extra effort has to be exerted in promoting those destinations.
For the next few months, he added, they will be working on programs to help people of Carles and Concepcion ensure the sustainability of their tourism promotion.
As Iloilo is known for island beaches, the fifth district also serves as its main entry for tourism. It generates 40 percent of the annual tourist arrivals for the whole province, he said.
The tourism industry in the province was badly hit by the pandemic.
From March 15 until August 31 when the lockdown was implemented, the losses in tourism arrival reached 145,000 or almost half of the usual guests. The period happens to be the peak months for tourist arrivals, he said.
Lost income was placed at around PHP15 billion.(PNA)