Tour operators to market Negros Oriental’s diverse destinations

Tour operators to market Negros Oriental’s diverse destinations

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DUMAGUETE CITY, Philippines — Philippine Tour Operators Association Inc., the country’s leading and largest travel and tours group, and the provincial government of Negros Oriental joined hands in efforts to spur the tourism industry in the province.

2024 targets

For 2024, executive director and provincial tourism board chair of Negros Oriental Tourism Council Woodrow “RR” Maquiling Jr. said that the province targets 500,000 tourist arrivals, an increase from last year’s 272,000 inbound tourists.

The 2024 tourist arrival target is still far from the more than 1 million tourist arrival record in 2019, the last full year before the Philippines implemented travel restrictions due to COVID-19.

Maquiling, however, said that despite this, the Negros Oriental tourism numbers are picking up, reporting that in the first quarter of 2024 the province beached its 125,000 quarterly target and registered 142,000 tourist arrivals. This is a 155% increase from the 55,000 registered in Q1 of 2023.

He added that the Department of Tourism estimates that the 142,000 is equivalent to P2.8 billion revenue circulating among the people of the province.

The provincial tourism official said that tour operators can help Negros Oriental recover from the impact of COVID-19 and promoting the province to international and local clients.

“We had four governors in one term at the capitol. All the help you can extend to the province and the people of Negros Oriental ensuring that our tourism stays afloat is very much appreciated,” Maquiling said during the business-to-business session with PHILTOA and local stakeholders.

“PHILTOA will help us reach our goals, our targets. If we continue to push harder, maybe we can reach 600,000 arrivals by the end of the year,” he said in another speech last May 19, adding that 550,000 to 600,000 is equivalent to P10 to P12 billion revenue for the province.

Negros Oriental has faced several challenges amid the changes in leadership following the controversial killing of Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo.

Currently, the province is led by Gov. Manuel “Chaco” Sagarbarría who assumed office in May 2023. Maquiling said tourism is among the top priorities of the incumbent provincial government who wishes to push tourism, culture and arts as an economic driver for the people of Negros Oriental.

As a reciprocal gesture to the warm welcome of the provincial government, the tour operator members of PHILTOA and members of the press visited Negros Oriental from May 16 to 19 to immerse in the tour offerings of the province and its capital Dumaguete City, dubbed the “City of Gentle People.” This coincided with the centennial celebration of the capitol.

The following members joined the familiarization tour eyed to market the diverse tourist destinations of the province including the world-famous Apo Island, Manjuyod White Sandbar, Balinsasayaw Twin Lakes, Dumaguete City’s historic gems such as the Belfry, Siliman University, St. Catherine of Alexandria Cathedral and the heart of the city, Rizal Boulevard, among others:

  • Bacolod Tour Guide Co. Ltd. – Nathan Rio
  • Dakila Prime Travel and Tours Corp. – Andrei Ivan Lacsamana
  • A Whole New World Travel Express – Crizelle Joya
  • Strikers Travel Corp. – Maria Lourdes Japson
  • Bridges Multi Business Services Inc. – Mary Ann Ong
  • Guide to the Philippines – Joymie Nifas
  • Aiesha Travel And Tours – Adenida Estabillo Bacud
  • Air Lounge – Jennel Balajadia
  • ATD Xperience – Harold Atondo
  • Gethrose travel – Genebeth Advincula
  • EC Minds Tour – Dave Camacho
  • Neth Travel and Tours – Romulo Lumibao Jr.
  • Landsair Tours And Travel Corp – Maggie May Pereda
  • Rajah Travel Corporation – Mark Ren Apolinar
  • Biyaheko – Kathleen Guinto
  • PHILTOA – Jovy Caldejon and Ella Marie Edera

They also networked with the province’s fellow tour operators and hospitality groups including the Negros Oriental Association of Travel and Tour Agencies and the Negros Oriental Hotel Resort Restaurant Association in business-to-business sessions.

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