Yolanda-stricken areas bank on tourism edge
Ehda M. Dagooc (The Freeman) - August 13, 2019 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — Five years after the devastation of Yolanda super-typhoon, Tacloban City and the rest of Eastern Visayas are poised to make tourism their “breadwinner” by developing the region’s potential to attract MICE (meetings, incentives, conference and exhibitions) events.

Department of Tourism (DOT-8) regional director Karina Rosa S. Tiopes announced that the region is putting its tourism edge in the forefront to uplift the livelihood of communities, especially those whose lives were destructed by calamities.

In the major cities, like Tacloban, Ormoc, and other big towns, MICE is being pushed to add to the region’s already nature-rich appeal. Thus, capitalists are also encouraged to build large meeting facilities or modern convention centers.

In Tacloban City, Tiopes said developers have started to build facilities for larger events. She mentioned the opening of Robinson’s Land Corporation’s Summit Hotel Tacloban last year, which has a larger function room facility that could accommodate good number of MICE delegates.

In attracting MICE, the Eastern Visayas tourism office expects not only to spur hotels’ and retail revenues in the host cities, but delegates are also expected to discover the diverse tourism attractions within the region.

Slowly, Tiopes said Tacloban City in particular is already gaining momentum in luring MICE events, including international conferences.

From total tourist arrivals of 735 thousand recorded in 2013, the figure jumped significantly to 1.78 million in 2018.

Branded as the region of “Infinite Escapes”, Eastern Visayas has the most diverse tourism attractions from caving, waterfalls, mountain trekking, farm tourism, history and heritage (Limasawa and Homonhon islands), diving, farm tourism, among others.

Sophisticated foreign tourists—those who are into deep adventure, diving and exclusive cruise expeditions are now starting to come frequently to Leyte, Tiopes reported.

The Sogod Bay, in Southern Leyte for instance, which is tagged as the “rising star of Philippine diving destinations” is now the favorite target of professional divers from Europe.

The famous Kalanggaman Island, along with Canigao, Limasawa, Sambawan, mong other barely-touched islands and islets in the region are often visited by exclusive international cruise ships and curated tours.

With this development, DOT-8, in cooperation with other agencies also embarked several aggressive community-development campaigns, as well as implemented programs to capacitate the communities in proper tourism engagements: including teaching them the culture of tourism, teaching them tourism-entrepreneurship, to uplift their livelihood.

On the other hand, despite the high potential to capitalize the region’s tourism advantage, Tiopes said the authorities are also mindful of attaining a balanced growth, in being indignant about implementing sustainable tourism.

“We are not really into the number game. We aim for quality tourism,” Tiopes added. (FREEMAN)  

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