DOT: More goods needed for tourism industry

ILOILO CITY -- The Department of Tourism (DOT)-Western Visayas challenged local farmers and micro, small, and medium (MSMEs) in the city to produce more goods to support the vibrant tourism industry in Western Visayas.

DOT-Western Visayas Regional Director Helen Catalbas, during the "Weekend Tienda sa Iloilo" kick-off held recently, said that local farmers and producers as well as MSMEs need to keep up with the demands of the region’s tourism industry.

“This year, our target is 5.4 million tourist arrivals. Are you prepared for that?” she said.

She said that by the year 2022, the local farmers and local producers would have to cater to about 20 million people, including the target of 10 million tourists.

“The MSMEs should produce more so that our net income from tourism will be bigger,” she said.

She shared that most of the food consumed by our tourists here and the souvenirs that they purchased were not from Western Visayas.

“Despite the fact that the tourism sector was able to generate P112 billion in terms of tourist receipts, we are not retaining all of that,” she said.

The DOT official said that the developments in tourism have not yet fully cascaded down to the grassroots level and only a handful of big businesses are benefiting from these.

“Food supply such as fish, beef, and vegetables do not come from this region. Other regions are benefitting from the tourist arrivals in Western Visayas,” she said.

She said that the agency has been aggressively encouraging hotels and restaurants in Boracay Island to get their food supply such as meat from suppliers in the region. However, local producers here cannot sustain the demand.

She said that DOT has been providing assistance to MSMEs here in looking for markets and establishing linkages to help support their growth.

“Do not think yet of export markets because we are bringing the market to your doorsteps,” she said.

She added that it is time that local farmers and local producers here fully benefit from the efforts of the tourism sector. (PIA)