SHOW YOUR SMILE. “Smile, You’re in Bacolod!" is Bacolod City’s tourism brand slogan. The City Tourism Development Office is projecting 500,000 to 600,000 tourist arrivals by the end of 2022 as Bacolod continues to recover from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. (Image from City Tourism Development Office)

 

BACOLOD CITY – The City Tourism Development Office here is projecting 500,000 to 600,000 tourist arrivals by the end of 2022 as Bacolod continues to recover from the effects of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

“2022 is quite a good year. Slowly, we are picking up the pieces with the increasing visitor arrivals,” Maria Teresa Manalili, chief tourism operations officer, said during the virtual Liveable Cities Lab of the Liveable Cities Philippines and the League of Cities of the Philippines on Wednesday afternoon.

As of Thursday, data showed that in January, some 19,000 visitors arrived in the city; February, 24,000; March, 35,000; April, 38,000; May, 46,000; and June, 57,000.

Manalili said the estimated year-end target of 586,844 tourists is based on the conservative projection of a 284 percent increase from 2021.

“This does not include yet the tourism arrivals we anticipate for the forthcoming grand Masskara Festival in October and other upcoming events up to December,” she added.

In 2021, Bacolod had 147,582 visitors, which slightly increased by 3.12 percent from only 143,114 in 2020.

“In 2019, before the pandemic, we had around 803,911 visitors. In 2020, our figures dropped by -82.19 percent,” Manalili said.

She noted that Bacolod is developing and enhancing priority tourism products in line with the “live, work, play” priority programs of Mayor Alfredo Abelardo Benitez.

These include MICE (meetings, incentives, conventions, and exhibitions) tourism; food tourism; smart tourism; and heritage and culture and arts tourism.

Manalili said the primary tourism goals of the city include making Bacolod the MICE capital and the top food tourism hub in Western Visayas as well as providing tourists a complete travel experience using the convenience of technology.

In developing and enhancing its heritage, culture, and arts, Bacolod highlights the world-renowned Masskara Festival, which returns on Oct. 1 to 23, after a two-year hiatus due to Covid-19. It will follow the just-concluded Bacolod Rum Festival this month.

Another major local festival is the BacoLaodiat Festival held in celebration of the Chinese New Year. (PNA)