By John Noel E. Herrera
Over two years after the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic affected the tourism industry, Iloilo City is now enjoying a resurgence of sorts as over 190,000 tourists visited the metro since January 2022.
Data from Iloilo City Tourism Office (ICTO) indicated that a total of 191,654 local and foreign tourists went to the city, either for conventions, conferences, meetings, vacations, and other appointments, so far.
City Tourism Officer Junel Ann Divinagracia clarified that the data did not include same-day visitors who went to galleries, museums, and other cultural and tourist destinations in the city.
Divinagracia also emphasized that the figure was only as of August 2022 as other accommodation establishments have yet to submit their data as to the number of tourists accommodated.
Divinagracia added that the city’s tourism industry started to recover in April and May, when health and travel restrictions started to loosen, and conferences and conventions were again allowed.
ICTO also continues to prepare and improve the tourist destinations on the metro, and make local products that can entice more tourists to visit the city.
ICTO developed a three-hour night tour showcasing the different hues of Iloilo City by night that has already started in September.
Divinagracia recently said that with the renovation and improvements done in Molo Complex, they are also entertaining the idea of lighting up the heritage building in the city’s Calle Real in J.M. Basa Street to make scenes more attractive at night.
“We found out during night tours that guests were enjoying and they could focus on the stories of the destinations since there were fewer distractions like traffic and people. It was not too warm, they liked the cool weather,” she added.
ICTO also said that businesses in the tourism sector such as hotels, restaurants, and pasalubong centers are feeling the positive effects of the easing travel restrictions as they are now starting to recover from a tourism slump.
Divinagracia is also hopeful that the tourism industry in Iloilo City will continue to recover, especially with the comeback of the physical celebration of the Dinagyang Festival next year.