Western Visayas Focuses on Culture-Based Tourism

Director Helen Catalbas of the Department of Tourism – Regional Office 6 (DOT-6) said that one of the primary tourism products in Western Visayas is culture-based tourism

This was disclosed by the region’s top tourism official during the launching of Philippine Arts Festival (PAF) 2014 at the Capiz Gym in the Villareal Stadium here.

The PAF launching here was for the first time held outside of the National Capital Region (NCR).

“What makes the Philippines more attractive is not its beaches, is not its festivals, is not its trees and forests. It is the Filipino people themselves,” she said in her message before thousands of students, tourism stakeholders, National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) officials and local government officials, among others.

“Take away the Filipino from the beaches, from the hospitality and tourism industry and our beaches will be nothing but just like anywhere else,” she added.

Catalbas stressed that the province of Capiz has a potential for culture-based tourism products especially that the place is envisioned as the “Eco-Cultural Tourism Hub in Central Philippines.”

The DOT official also challenged the participants and spectators to contribute in making the Philippines a more fun country to live in by “putting forth the artist in each of us.”

She also underscored that artworks contribute to the country’s tourism slogan “Its More Fun in the Philippines” especially if these art expressions are cascaded down to the grassroots level.

Aside from its culture-based tourism, the region is also known for the world-renowned beach of Boracay, biggest bell in Asia, sweetest mangoes in the world and country’s top festivals like Dinagyang, Masskara and Ati-Atihan, among others.

Getting Tourists' Confidence Important

The Department of Tourism (DOT)-6 has urged national government agencies and local government units here to join efforts and work harder to retain the tourist market confidence in Western Visayas.

Lawyer Helen Catalbas, DOT-6 Regional Director, said that Western Visayas has been experiencing dramatic increase in tourist arrivals so it is necessary to sustain the momentum of the tourism industry.

Catalbas said that in 2011, the number of recorded tourist arrivals reached 2.4 million and this figure was surpassed by the 2012 record which hit 3.09 million tourist arrivals.

“The dramatic increase was brought by massive promotion and cooperation of the tourism sector, government agencies, private sector, and the local communities in the region,” she said.

The DOT official said that it is necessary to fill the 20,000 hotel rooms, tour buses, restaurants, and other tourism establishments in the region so investments put up by the private sector would not go to waste.

She said that cities and provinces in Region 6 should be competitive and improve on their tourism areas so that they will be above other tourism destinations in the country.

She also said that there is a need to come up with a marketing strategy to develop and market the region’s tourist spots and create new tourist destination circuits.

She added that the main target of tourism is to create improvement in the lives of people by providing more jobs and business opportunities. (JCM/Alex A. Lumaque/PIA6 Capiz/Leonard T. Pineda I /PIA-Iloilo)

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