Department of Tourism (DOT) Eastern Visayas Regional Director Karina Rosa Tiopes. (DOT photo)  

TACLOBAN CITY – The Department of Tourism (DOT) has been meeting with mayors and tourism officers in Eastern Visayas via the “Infinite Upgrades: Tourism Governance Executive Masterclass” to capacitate local officials in carrying out concrete tourism programs.

DOT Eastern Visayas Regional Director Karina Rosa Tiopes said they just held the week-long masterclass in Tagaytay City last week and will hold similar gatherings within the year for other local officials.

“This is an intimate training. Our speakers helped them understand their current situations and relate these as motivation toward attaining their mission and vision concerning tourism. They have also realized the importance of cooperation and collaboration with nearby towns and provinces to create clusters of varied tourism offerings,” Tiopes said in an interview on Wednesday.

The training provides an overview for mayors and tourism officers on their vital roles and how they can better support tourism development and management in their area of scope.

“We have invited speakers who are governors and mayors who performed well in terms of tourism development to share their experiences,” she added.

Tiopes said the National Tourism Act of 2009 encourages local governments to ensure they prepare and implement a tourism development plan, enforce standards and collect statistical data for tourism purposes.

The back-to-back training and benchmarking also aimed at educating our local officials on the ASEAN tourism standards and the new progressive accreditation system and introduce and promote the Philippine tourism quality seal, inculcating in them the value of DOT accreditation.

The region consists of the provinces of Biliran, Eastern Samar, Leyte, Northern Samar, Samar and Southern Leyte and the cities of Baybay, Borongan, Calbayog, Catbalogan, Maasin, Ormoc and Tacloban, the Eastern Visayas’ regional center.

Among its popular destinations are Kalanggaman Island, San Juanico Bridge, Leyte Landing Memorial in Leyte; Sambawan Island in Biliran; dive sites in Southern Leyte; Calicoan Island in Eastern Samar; Sohoton Cave and Natural Park in Samar and Biri Rock Formations in Northern Samar.

The region remains relatively under-the-radar compared to other tourist destinations in the Philippines, but this has been slowly changing in the past years as demand for raw nature tourism grows, Tiopes said.

More and more people visit the region in pursuit of rugged coasts and landscapes, secret caves and waterfalls and fascinating histories. (PNA)