Tuesday, April 21, 2009 [ sunstar.com.ph ]
By George M. De La Cruz
TOURISM Secretary Ace Durano said the towering Mt. Kanlaon and its natural features have good potentials to be the country's newest ecotourism site as the "iconic asset"' of Negros Occidental.
He said there was a plan to develop Kanlaon because of its unique aura for tourists, just like Mt. Apo where 4,000 feet below its peak was developed into an ecotourism site that already gained patronage among domestic and foreign tourists.
The tourism czar noted the many potential of Kanlaon comparable to that of Tagaytay in Rizal province and Baguio, all in Luzon areas.
He said he will meet with the Mt. Everest Team regarding his plan on Mt. Kanlaon, being the highest peak in the Visayas. A zoning of the Kanlon area just like in Mt. Apo will also be adopted.
Durano, whose wife is a Bacoleña, said he is also proud being a Negrense because the province is endowed with beautiful sceneries like the Mambukal Mountain Resort in Murcia town and the captivating white beach-resorts of Sipalay City in southern Negros Occidental.
"There is a need to package Negros with its unique natural spots. There is a need to put accommodation to attract tourists. Like in Sipalay, it is a positive development because it has grown big by developing their beaches with good nice accommodation and package," Durano said.
The Department of Tourism (DOT) pledged P5 million to further develop Mambukal, P1 million for the Masskara Festival and P500,000 for this year's Panaad Festival.
Durano said Panaad is more than just a festival, adding that Negros Occidental is the first province to showcase an "exposition of Negrenses."
Meanwhile, DOT said that despite the global economic crisis, it still expects a traffic of tourists in the country at 11 million; three million of them foreigners. "Tourism in the country has sustained the crisis because many of our fellow Filipinos have gone back home, touring the country that contributed to the tourism industry's net income."
He said with 11 million tourists, the country could earn a net of P2-P3 billion.