By Tara Yap
ILOILO CITY—As President Duterte continues to strengthen ties with China, the Department of Tourism (DOT) is eyeing more Chinese tourists to visit Western Visayas region.
According to DOT-6 Regional Director Helen Catalbas, this backs DOT’s national target for the year of attracting 1.5 million Chinese. A total of 986,447 Chinese visited the Philippines last year.
Based on DOT-6 data, the Chinese are the second biggest foreign visitors in Western Visayas. With 386,021 tourist arrivals last year, the Chinese accounted for 33.27 percent of the region’s total market.
The Chinese are behind the South Koreans, who have been consistently the top foreign arrivals for the past several years. Other top foreign visitors are from Taiwan, United States and Australia.
But the biggest challenge is the scheduled closure of Boracay Island, which geographically belongs to Western Visayas region.
Catalbas said that tourism stakeholders in Aklan, Antique, Capiz, Guimaras, Iloilo, and Negros Occidental provinces are doubling their efforts to be able to attract the Chinese market and give them alternatives to Boracay.
“We want all other destinations and attractions in the region to be ready,” Catalbas added.