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Bacolod City, Philippines Thursday, January 30, 2020
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Tourism and development

Ninfa Leonardia

We welcomed the Chinese New Year with a twist, this time at around six in the morning while travelling towards the north, we saw a lot of vehicles occupied by young people wearing white, some in private cars, buses and even jeepneys off route; we headed to the same direction - Cadiz City.

It was the first time for our companions Mattie and JP to attend such revelry, and we made sure they wore black or white. Roy came ready with his old white shirt. It was my special day on a Chinese New Year and red was the best color to wear. We were up and about ready to brave the streets of the city, surprisingly at the welcome arch were a lot of youngsters in white with faces already painted by fellow visitors at eight in the morning for the Lamhitanay in Cadiz.

This was also the 46th Dinagsa Festival where we were able to watch about eight tribes perform their best in the competition. This time, they trained choreographers from Cadiz and saw to it that costumes were authentic and not copied or borrowed from previous festivals. Tribes performed their dances guided by movements telling the story of the Aetas of Cadiz and their norms, the whale stranding, pirates attack, presentation of Sto. Niño de Cadiz, the way of life of the Cadiznons, from celebration of festivals, to economic progress, livelihood and technological advancements, and the famous crowd drawer Lamhitanay.

If you were new in town, you would think it was like having a zombie apocalypse, from my view at the rooftop of the tourism office at the plaza, the streets and even the public plaza was filled with visitors, some in shorts, pants and most of them in white shirt and unrecognizable due to the play of water-based paints.

Years back, this was only along the center of the town, now it has grown and economically spread out, an increase of day tourists and accommodation facilities were booked for the weekend. Governor Eugenio Lacson came for the festival to support the tourism activity with its overwhelming success; he sure had fun with lamhitanay as well together with Mayor Salvador Escalante and Board Member Pal Guanzon and former Board Member Gary Acuna, among others.

***

Recently, provincial tourism officers participated in the Tourism Development Updating with the Department of Tourism Region 6. This was a meeting for the local government units to align programs with DOT. Director Helen Catalbas mentioned that proposals for projects supported by DOT should pass thru the Provincial Tourism Office for endorsement with the condition that towns and cities submit day and visitor arrivals report, an action plan for the year, and that primary tourism establishments should be accredited, aside from proper liquidation of previous fund assistance.

Many towns would want support to festivals, promotional and marketing support, special projects, tourism development plans, travel fairs and exhibitions yet they do not submit tourist arrival data which is vital in tourism.

A tourism product audit will be held in May for Negros Occidental for the updating of the Western Visayas tourism situationer, website content, social media content and future promotional materials with LGU tourism officers to work with DOT. Excellence awards for LGUs will be held on November 2020 by the Department of Tourism, its last one was held in 2009. This will be very exciting and we will strengthen the capabilities of each town and city in the province to be able to comply with the demands of the industry.

The implementation of the 2009 National Tourism Act is now being enforced and we will see more tourism facilities meeting the proper standards, from service providers to establishments. We will see more clean tourist restrooms, signages, promotional materials and the digitalization of our tourism information desks and offices.

It’s going to be a challenging 2020 for tourism in Negros as we promote a culture of tourism and level off with our neighbors in Asia. New Year, New Beginnings - have fun at the BacoLaodiat!*

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