DUMAGUETE CITY – The provincial government of Negros Oriental vowed to double the number of tourist arrivals this year as it embarks on an aggressive tourism campaign.
Woodrow Maquiling Jr., Provincial Tourism Board Executive Director and concurrent chair of the Provincial Tourism Council, told the Philippine News Agency on Thursday that they are looking at bringing in at least 500,000 visitors this year with aggressive approaches and innovations to ramp up the industry.
“The province, under the leadership of Governor Manuel Sagarbarria, has lined up several activities to bring in more tourists to Negros Oriental, and he has already approved the 2024 Tourism Agenda,” Maquiling said.
Negros Oriental will strengthen its partnership with all tourism stakeholders in the province and undertake more aggressive promotion and marketing of existing and new destinations, he added.
Some of the new products to be launched this year are the “Viaje de Amor” (journey to the heart) or the Northern Negros Tourism Circuit that will introduce new tourism destinations and activities in Canlaon City, Vallehermoso and Guihulngan City.
Also, the province will soon turn over a PHP3-million 24-seater boat to the local government of Vallehermoso town to jumpstart the dolphin and whale watching activities at the Tañon Strait from that town.
Maquiling said Negros Oriental is also looking forward to a venture involving the partnership with Bacolod City in Negros Occidental to develop a tourism package that will promote both the Buglasan and Masskara Festivals of Negros Oriental and Bacolod City, respectively.
The package would likely be dubbed Two Festivals in One Trip since both festivals are scheduled on the third week of October every year, Maquiling said.
Other activities include advancing or promoting MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) Tourism; developing the “Hop On Hop Off Tour” package around the island; revitalization of the Tanjay Boardwalk under a co-management scheme with LGU-Tanjay City; installation of 10 tourism billboards in strategic entry and exit points in the province; conduct of the 3rd Tourist-Oriented Drivers Training to 1,000 tricycle and van drivers; among others.
Meanwhile, the province posted a 19 percent increase in domestic and foreign tourists in 2023.
A year-on-year data showed that the province posted 242,982 tourist arrivals in Negros Oriental in 2023 compared to 204,164 recorded in 2022.
Most of the foreign tourists were Americans, Koreans and Chinese. (PNA)