Guimaras hoping to market mangoes at Japan festival

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GUIMARAS hopes to market its mangoes in Japan at a festival where a delegation from the province will deliver a cultural performance.

Provincial Tourism Officer Liberty N. Ferrer said the Philippine Festival Organizing Committee (PFOC) invited the province to send a delegation to the Philippine Festival 2019 at Tokyo’s Yoyogi Park, which Guimaras hopes to use as a jumping-off point for a trade mission to promote its top agricultural product.

Twenty performers from the Hubon Guimarasnon who sang at the Manggahan Festival of San Lorenzo, Guimaras will perform during the grand parade and cultural presentation on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1.

“We are not going to bring mangoes but mango products. We want to export mangoes to Japan, but first we have to study the preferences of the market,” Ms. Ferrer told the media last week.

Guimaras’ biggest annual celebration is the Manggahan Festival in May, the peak season for mango harvesting.

“This is a huge opportunity for us with the Iloilo Strait tragedy that happened and so we really need to revive our tourism receipts,” she added.

The Iloilo Strait boat sinkings on Aug. 3 resulted in 31 deaths. Three motorboats plying the Iloilo-Guimaras route capsized due to inclement weather, with the resulting transport disruptions significantly affecting the island’s tourism sector.

Visitor arrivals during the Aug. 4-31 period dropped 74% from a year earlier while tourism receipts decreased to P9.8 million from P42.9 million.

Stricter rules for ferry operations have since been implemented, but the province still has yet to recover from the negative impact of the incident.

Ms. Ferrer said apart from tourism, the province is also aiming to attract investors, especially for the development of more accommodations.

“We need tourism investment, (like) bed and breakfasts and then we have areas here with potential development. That is what we are trying to sell,” she said.

The Department of Tourism–Western Visayas (DoT-6) recently launched the #LoveGuimaras Assistance Package, a campaign intended to attract at least 100,000 local and foreign visitors over a period of one year, which started on Oct. 31. — Emme Rose S. Santiagudo