Tourism department to ‘re-sell’ Capiz to tourists

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ROXAS City: The Department of Tourism (DOT) in Region 6 has worked up the concept of “Tindog Capiz” to help re-sell the province to tourists,

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The working concept came from a recent meeting of lawyer Helen Catalbas, director of the Department of Tourism in Region VI and Alphonsus Tesoro, chief of Capiz’ provincial tourism and cultural affairs office (PTCAO) after Super Typhoon Yolanda ravaged the Visayas.

“Tindog Capiz” (which literally means ‘stand up, Capiz’) is a campaign to encourage potential tourists to help in the rehabilitation efforts for its various tourist sites.

Tesoro told The Manila Times that tourism promotion must continue despite the devastation here caused by the world’s most powerful cyclone on record.

The program was crafted to inspire tourists—local and foreign tourists, government and private company employees, religious groups, students—to help in whatever capacity they have in rebuilding ruined tourist sites and in providing aid to affected residents.

Activities include planting of mangroves and trees, coastal cleanups, rebuilding efforts, feeding programs and livelihood training, among others.

In exchange for their participation, 20-percent discount in hotel and restaurant rates would be given to interested individuals or groups, once registered through PTCAO.

“This is our concept of the coined ‘voluntourism,’ in which tourists come here and spend vacation with a purpose,” Tesoro added.

This way we strengthen further the spirit of volunteerism of the Filipinos, Tesoro explained.

PTCAO envisions that in one year, the campaign will reach a higher paradigm, where the so-called responsible tourism—including the conservation of the natural, cultural and heritage assets, promoting sectoral development and welfare of children, etc.—is already promoted and sustained.

Several tourist destinations of the province were damaged by the powerful typhoon. Most of them were river tours managed by locals, centuries-old churches and buildings, and pilgrimage sites.

Included were the Pahina Greenbelt Ecopark and the Cadimahan River Tours here, where the rafts and other structures made of bamboo were destroyed. Floating restaurants and massage parlors were offered to visitors here before the typhoon ravaged Capiz.

The church of Panay, which houses the biggest church bell in Asia, was partially ruined, along with other heritage churches.

Even the 40-foot crucifix on top of the Meditation Hills in the town of Sapian was no match for Yolanda’s winds as it fell and blocked the way to the top. Yet the statue of the Risen Christ behind the cross remains standing majestically. The church officials plan to reopen the site by February 2014.

The province has lost about P3.7 billion in infrastructure, P1.03 billion in agriculture, and P676 million in fisheries because of Yolanda.

Such devastation happened just six years after the provincial government, through incumbent Governor Victor Tanco, officially launched its tourism campaign. Tourist arrivals here jumped to over 365,000 last year from only 46,433 in 2007.

Tourism allied businesses like malls, hotels, restaurants, resorts and the like—have invested about P1.4 billion here since 2010. Capiz was also rated by local travelers as one of the top 20 tourist spots in the country, according to the National Statistics Office (NSO).

Lawyer Jose Villanueva, provincial administrator, believed that Tindog Capiz should be the battle cry to depict the people’s determination to rise up against all odds.

“It is a well-thought idea to show to the world that despite the devastation caused by Yolanda, Capiznons are still able to rise,” he said.

He added that this campaign could also help residents here “convert a great crisis into a beautiful opportunity.”

Tesoro said Yolanda taught the people of Capiz to be resilient, proactive and to plan for calamities.

“It also taught us to appreciate small acts and little contributions that can have a huge impact in reviving the province.

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