Stakeholders in the tourism industry, specifically the accommodation establishments sector, on Wednesday assured to support the Negros Oriental provincial government’s agenda to double the province’s tourist arrivals this year.
The commitments were made during a forum for managers and owners of accommodation facilities initiated by the Provincial Tourism Board headed by its executive director Woodrow Maquiling Jr.
Maquiling, concurrent provincial tourism chair, said the forum aimed to bring together the key sector to listen to their concerns, noting that with a projected increase in tourist arrivals this year comes the need for more rooms.
“We will go back to pre-pandemic levels roughly by 2025 and 2026. That’s the projection of UNWTO (United Nations World Tourism Organization), said Maquiling, a former undersecretary of the Department of Tourism during the Duterte administration.
In Negros Oriental, the latest data showed that for the entire year of 2023, tourist arrivals totaled 273,157, a 34 percent jump from 204,164 recorded in 2022.
“Definitely, there is a lot of movement already. Travel has perked, travel has returned and it’s very essential that all of us in the accommodation establishments will know all of this because we need more rooms,” he added.
More rooms, he added, would complement the efforts of the provincial government to bolster its tourism industry, targeting 500,000 tourist arrivals this year.
Dona Maturan, president of the Negros Oriental Tourism Officers’ Association (NOTOA), in an interview, said they have been “collaborative” with the provincial government and even involved in “crafting of the tourism road map”.
“We are the frontliners and the ones handling the accommodation establishments as well as helping in the promotion of tourism in Negros Oriental,” Maturan said.
She is optimistic that they will be able to meet the 500,000 target this year.
For her part, Royani Dy, president of the Negros Oriental Hotel, Resorts, and Restaurants Association (NOHRRA), welcomed the announcement of increasing tourist arrivals as this would also bring good business to the restaurants.
As for accommodation, Dy believed there is enough to cover the current requirements although the hotels, resorts, and pension houses are scattered.
“As of now, it is doable and not exclusive to Dumaguete and we have to go to Sibulan, Dauin, Zamboanguita, and Siaton but there are a lot of hotels coming out,” she noted.
She is hopeful that more tourist accommodations will be available this year or in 2025.
Close to 200 owners, managers, and representatives of hotels, resorts, and other accommodation establishments from across the province attended the forum. (PNA)