Wake Up, Philippines!

Durano: Domestic travelers driving tourism industry

Posted in Leisure, Tourism, Travel by Erineus on April 30, 2009

By Antonieta Lopez Updated May 01, 2009 12:00 AM

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San Carlos City, with its Pintaflores Festival, won third place in the Best of Festival dance competition participated in by 19 towns and 13 cities in Negros Occidental which highlighted the opening of the 16th Panaad sa Negros Festival in Bacolod City recently.

BACOLOD CITY, Philippines — Filipinos on leisure travel to domestic destinations are contributing much to the growth of the country’s tourism industry.

Tourism Secretary Ace Durano said more financially able Filipinos are now choosing local destinations over foreign trips, hence softening the blow of the global crisis on the tourism industry.

Arrivals from markets like the United States and Japan have significantly dropped since last year, he said. Yet the slowdown from these premium markets was compensated by increasing domestic travel and steady visits from the nationals of France, Russia and China, he said.

Citing data for the first two months, Durano noted an increase of 30 percent of French arrivals; Russians, 40 percent; and Chinese, 60 percent.

“More of the markets that are important to us remain strong,” Durano said.

Domestic travel, at the same time, has grown by 18 percent every year since 2005 when it contributed P800 million to the total tourism traffic, he added.

Durano, who delivered the keynote address at the opening of the 16th Panaad sa Negros Festival here, said the challenge for the sector remains on how to develop more destinations.

“It is not enough that we have tourism attractions. We need to transform them into destinations so as to encourage both foreign and domestic tourists,” he stressed.

Durano lauded Gov. Isidro Zayco and the provincial government of Negros Occidental by accepting the challenge and continuing to reinvent the festival every year.

“The beauty of Panaad is that it is more than a festival. It is an exposition of what Negros Occidental can offer all year round,” he added.

He also noted efforts to develop Sipalay City, south of this city, which was once referred to by President Arroyo as the “Boracay of Negros” with its long stretch of white sand beaches and dive spots.

Durano said there is a lot of investments going on in Sipalay addressing the need for more accommodations and other infrastructure.

“When there are accommodations, tourists will come,” he said.

Panaad sa Negros is an annual event participated in by 13 cities and 19 towns of the province held at the Panaad Park and Stadium in Alijis, Bacolod City. Panaad is the Hiligaynon word for “vow” or “promise” and is a form of thanksgiving to the Divine Providence and realization of a vow in exchange for a good life.

View previous articles from this author.http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleId=462905&publicationSubCategoryId=87

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