EV Eyes Tourist Arrivals to Reach 523,842 by 2016

Quote: TACLOBAN CITY – Eastern Visayas aims to increase tourist arrival from 207,957 in 2011 to 523,842 in 2016, targeting domestic visitors from three regions and foreign tourists from Europe and other five countries, the Department of Tourism revealed, citing the newly-completed tourism sectoral plan 

The new plan, which will be launched on the last week of (Sep 2012?), has tagged nature, history and culture, sun and beach, conference and events, education, and diving and marine sports as major contributor to the more than doubled projected growth.

“Various tourism stakeholders have identified these six tourism products that enriches tourist experience and boosts product diversification,” said DOT Regional Director Karina Rosa Tiopes.

Of the 523,842 target number of tourists, 485,385 are domestic and 38,460 are foreigners. The sectoral plan eyes tourist from within the region, Central Visayas, and National Capital Region. Target foreign tourists are from USA, Australia, Japan, Europe, Korea, and China.

Drawing visitors from two other regions are more realistic, according to Tiopes because of direct flights to Manila and Cebu. More than half of the region’s domestic visitors in 2011 are from these two areas, according to the tourist satisfaction survey conducted last year.

Tourists from 6 foreign areas have been consistently visiting the region’s destinations for the past years.

“In terms of tourist arrivals, we are just a follower among top and we have to promote the region as an alternative destination, thus slowly increasing our market share,” Tiopes explained.

Stakeholders has identified destinations in Tourism Development Areas in Northeast Leyte, Northwest– Biliran, Southern Leyte, West Samar, East Samar, and North Samar

“We listed high impact projects that are doable within a timetable. This is what we can do within the next three years given the resource and commitment support of government and private sector. We have to prioritize some destinations because we cannot develop each destination,” Tiopes explained.

Major activities include improving Tacloban airport terminal and facilities, design and launch Eastern Visayas tourism website, install Region 8 tourism billboards at international airports, conduct training for industry frontliners, install signages along roads leading to tourist sites, organize tourism caravan and familiarization tours by December 2012 and April 2013.

Among the most visited sites in the region are the Divinubo Eco Tour Park in Borongan City, Eastern SamarSohoton Cave in Basey, Samar; St. Francis Xavier, Maasin City in Southern Leyte; Hindag-an Falls in St. Bernard, Southern Leyte; Paru-parong Bukid in Babatngon, Leyte; Bontoc Cave in Hindang, Leyte; Tabuk Marine Park in Palompon, Leyte; Sibugay Mountain Resort in Albuera, Leyte; First Mass Shrine in Limasawa, Southern Leyte; Kalanggaman Island in Palompon, Leyte (Sarwell Q. Meniano)