ILOILO CITY, Philippines — Western Visayas is bracing for significant changes in its tourism industry after the separation of Negros Occidental, including Bacolod City, from the region following the creation of the Negros Island Region (NIR).

The Department of Tourism (DOT) believed the NIR, which now groups Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental and Siquijor provinces as a new region, would substantially alter the tourist arrivals and economic performance of Western Visayas.

DOT regional director Crisanta Marlene Rodriguez said the regional tourism sector recorded approximately 5.3 million tourist arrivals in 2023, with Negros Occidental and Bacolod City accounting for around 1.41 million of these visitors.

READ: Marcos signs Negros Island Region Act

“Just consider the numbers. The impact is quite substantial,” she said in an interview.

NIR was established as the country’s 18th region after Republic Act No. 12000 was signed by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on June 13.

The DOT-Western Visayas is currently awaiting the implementing rules and regulations for the NIR and has pledged support for all tourism initiatives within this new framework, said Rodriguez.

Rodriguez acknowledged the loss of Negros Occidental’s unique tourism sites which drew many visitors in the past years.

“Negros is renowned for its nature tourism, but we believe Western Visayas has great potential, especially in cultural and culinary experiences,” she added.

2024-06-24T20:34:42Z dg43tfdfdgfd