THE DEPARTMENT of Tourism-Western Visayas (DoT-6) has launched a new campaign to bring in at least 100,000 visitors to Guimaras Island, which suffered a major setback following the boat accidents in August. “If we get to bring in 350 domestic and foreign tourists to Guimaras every day and we multiply it by 30 days and 12 months, that would be a total of 126, 000 tourists for one year,” DoT-6 Regional Director Helen J. Catalbas said in an interview last Nov. 1 during the launching of the #LoveGuimaras Assistance Package (OLAP). “What started out as a mere quick response to the casualties and survivors of the Guimaras tragedy has now grown into a campaign and this is going to end on October 2020… We have to do something, to get back what we have lost,” Ms. Catalbas said. OLAP is being implemented in partnership with the provincial and local governments of Guimaras and private tourism stakeholders. Under the program, various activities have been lines up to promote the province.
Project OLAP kicked off with the distribution of hundreds of colorful umbrellas to the motor boat associations plying from Iloilo to Guimaras and vice versa. “We want to make it appear like a colorful festival of umbrellas. The motorboats would look so festive with all the colorful umbrellas used by the passengers,” Ms. Catalbas said. The other activities planned are: January 2020 — United Colors of Guimaras: A Fashion Show; February 2020 — Fall in Love with Guimaras: A Familiarization Tour for Travel Agents/Tour Operators; January 2020 — United Artists of Guimaras: An Art Exhbition in support to Iloilo-Guimaras Paraw Regatta; March 2020 — Launching of Market Day Tourism; April-May 2020 — Support for Manggahan Festival; and June-July 2020 — Launch and operation of sunrise/lunch/dinner cruises. The Iloilo Strait tragedy on August 3, wherein three boats sunk amid a sudden change in weather, claimed 31 lives. Tourism, one of the main income-earners in the island province, has since suffered a significant drop in arrivals and receipts. For the period Aug. 4–31 alone, data from the provincial government show a drop in receipts to P9.8 million this year from P42.9 million in 2018. — Emme Rose S. Santiagudo