Iloilo Strait Tragedy Hurts Guimaras’ Tourism

The tourism sector in the island-province of Guimaras suffered a setback after the Iloilo Strait sea mishap on August 3.

Liberty Ferrer, senior tourism operations officer and officer-in-charge of Guimaras Provincial Office (PTO), said on Saturday the tourism sector is one of the sectors affected by the recent tragedy.

The island-province depends on agriculture, fishery, and tourism sector, she said.

“All are affected, not only tourism but the whole province. We ask help for us to get back on our feet and all sectors will be brought to its regular development,” Ferrer said.

Accommodation establishments on the island were primarily affected because there were tourist cancellations after the tragedy.

Supporting businesses like those selling tourism products and providing services also took a hit due to lack of visitors.

Ferrer projected a decrease in visitor arrivals as the tourism guest assistance center of the province “is not back on its usual operation”.

“For now, our guest assistance center is helping with the manifesto (of names of those involved in the maritime accident) and so we cannot focus on getting the data for tourism,” he said.

During normal days, she said one motorized banca can cater to an average of 20 trips daily. Ferrer said 104 motorized bancas are operational.

However, the Philippine Coast Guard disallowed the operation of motorized bancas because of the inclement weather.

Currently, 2 Roll-on/Roll-off (RoRo) vessels from Montenegro Shipping Lines Inc. and Tri-Star Megalink Corp., and two fast-craft vessels from Ocean Fest Ferries Inc. and 2GO Group Inc. ferry passengers from Iloilo to Guimaras and vice-versa.

“Fewer guests cross the seas to visit Guimaras,” she said.

The United Kingdom on August 5 has released a travel advisory warning its citizens against sea travel in the Philippines.

Ferrer assured that they are closely coordinating with the Department of Tourism (DOT) to address the matter as inter-agency meetings are slated in the following days.

Meanwhile, the PTO also thinks of ways to give Guimarasnons involved in the tourism sector a living.

“We have asked with the DOT, and we will find ways on how to help them as to their livelihood,” she said.

The major tourist attractions in Guimaras are the Guisi Lighthouse and Taklong Island National Marine Reserve in Nueva Valencia, Trappist Monastery in Jordan, San Lorenzo Wind Farm, and mango orchards, among others. (PNA)

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