ILOILO CITY — Due to restrictions from coronavirus disease (COVID-19), Western Visayas only earned P21.6 billion last year from the tourism industry.
“The COVID-19 pandemic severely affected the tourism industry because of the travel restrictions imposed to contain the spread,” noted Atty. Helen Catalbas, Western Visayas regional director of the Department of Tourism (DOT-6).
Catalbas told Manila Bulletin in an interview that the P21.6 billion earnings were from the partial data of the more than one million tourists who visited the region prior to the March 2020 lockdown and the gradual reopening of destinations by middle of June 2020.
“Despite the pandemic, there were those who still traveled for leisure or even within their own provinces or cities,” Catalbas added.
Aklan contributed the biggest chunk with P9.9 billion, largely due to the influx of 375,847 tourists in Boracay Island, the country’s most famous beach destination located in Malay.
It is followed by Negros Occidental with P4.3 billion from 238,238 visitors while Bacolod City earned P2.75 billion from 143,114 visitors; P2.14 billion from 111,435 visitors in Iloilo City; P1.9 billion from 66,257 visitors in Capiz; P286.5 million from 15,384 visitors in Guimaras; and P191.3 million from 10,706 visitors in Aklan.
Catalbas is upbeat that the tourism sector in Western Visayas can slowly recover with the gradual reopening of destinations this year.