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Western Visayas LGUs Pushed To Develop More Tourism Destinations

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Western Visayas LGUs Pushed To Develop More Tourism Destinations

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The Department of Tourism (DOT) said there is a need to “ramp up” tourism promotions in Western Visayas now that Negros Occidental and Bacolod City have left the region following the creation of the Negros Island Region (NIR).

“(We) will also be encouraging our LGUs (local government units) to discover more destinations. They can have exploratory assessments of destinations, which we can develop as a tourist destination,” DOT regional director Crisanta Marlene Rodriguez said in an interview on Thursday.

Rodriguez said she was saddened by the separation as the province and city have “very unique tourism offerings.”

“They are also very big on nature, which I believe our Western markets are very attracted to. Also, culture and food that is unique to them,” she said.

Citing data, Rodriguez said Negros Occidental and Bacolod City have over 1.4 million combined tourist arrivals in 2023 out of the 5.3 million total arrivals in Western Visayas.

Nonetheless, she said that historically and culturally, they could not be separated from Panay, especially the food and culture.

Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental are part of the sugar trail that DOT is trying to develop as a destination.

Three of the four-venue International Open Water Swim Circuit: Experience Western Visayas that kicked off in Negros Occidental in February this year are in Panay and Guimaras.

The swim circuit aimed to establish Western Visayas as a leading destination for sports and ecotourism.

“They cannot be separated totally, except that in terms of boundaries, there’s already the Negros Island Region. So we are waiting for the drafting of the NIR; the office of DOT will support every tourism program they will initiate,” Rodriguez said.

Meanwhile, Rodriguez said DOT has already communicated with the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines the requests of LGUs in Iloilo for the resumption of international flights at the Iloilo International Airport to Hong Kong and Singapore.

But there is also a need to ensure there is a demand from these countries to resume such flights, she said.

“So we’re trying to work that out. We hope to get demand from those coming from other countries as well, not only the demand of Filipinos,” she said. (PNA)