DOT banks on domestic visitors to boost sector in W. Visayas

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The Department of Tourism in Western Visayas (Region 6) will push for intra-regional tourism to boost the industry in the region following the ban of international flights coming from China due to the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) scare.

During the joint meeting of the Regional Development Council (RDC) and the Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC) on Thursday, Tourism Western Visayas regional director Helen Catalbas said eight million population of Western Visayas is a potent force to prevent the closure of businesses in the region.

Our purpose here is domestic tourism, intra-regional tourism. People from Negros visiting Aklan, people from Aklan visiting Guimaras or Negros. Little Guimaras visiting another little province of Antique. Antique visiting Capiz, so on and so forth, she said in her presentation.

She added that business will go on because of this strategy, saying local tourists would suffice to keep the industry afloat.

We have six very active airports. We have 200 islands more or less and some of these islands have no names but they are also very touristic. Some of our big islands are really tourist destinations and we cannot afford to be stranded or to be flattened to the ground because of the nCoV, she said.

Catalbas said they will depend on the strategy that they used way back in 2013 when Typhoon Yolanda struck portions of Western Visayas where Boracay Island for almost two months has no power.

She said they will start next week by meeting with establishments in Boracay that experience massive cancelation.

She will offer to them the marketing facilities of DOT-Region 6 by having them agree that they should go on room rate sale, adding that discounted rates are better than empty rooms.

We have eight million resident population in Western Visayas. If they rally behind us, all the eight million or even just 20 percent to visit our attractions in the region at discounted rates, I'm sure they will enjoy Western Visayas and at the same time our businesses will not close shop, she said.

She said many of the 1.6 million or 20 percent of the eight million Visayans can afford to travel in the region where the people are friendly.

Meanwhile, in a separate interview, Governor Florencio Miraflores said Aklan and Boracay are still open for business.

He said what was affected were hotels that cater to chartered flights from China.

The Koreans are still coming in by chartered flights, he added.

He said they are hoping that the domestic market can compensate for the loss of foreign guests in Boracay.

I would like to assure our local tourists that Boracay is safe. There is no truth to the rumor going around that there is a confirmed case in Boracay, he said.

However, he said the novel coronavirus issue will make an impact on their economy.

We barely have recovered from the closure, then [Typhoon] 'Ursula', then this one, the massive cancelation of foreign tourists and also in a way by some local tourists, he said.

Source: Philippines News Agency