Calamities typically bring down tourist arrivals in affected destinations, but not in Eastern Visayas.
More than a year after Typhoon Yolanda’s onslaught, the region registered a significant rise in tourist arrivals in 2014, reaching 964,000 tourists from 731,000 in 2013 — a 31.9 percent increase.
That figure was driven mainly by two reasons: the influx of humanitarian workers and staff from international agencies and NGOs after the devastation of the supertyphoon, and, interestingly, increased trips made by residents of Eastern Visayas, said Karen Tiopes, Department of Tourism Region 8 director.
“For one — I will not lie about it — we have many humanitarian guests. But they help us. They were not just here to do volunteer jobs. Most of those here, especially those who stayed longer, went around during weekends,” said Tiopes. “And on their way, they discover… When we talk to them, they say they will come back.”
She also said residents of the region, especially survivors of the supertyphoon, began to travel more frequently as soon as they had recovered. “Maybe it’s a realization that life is too short. Tacloban people go out and look for places they can explore in Region 8.”
About 96 percent of tourist arrivals in 2014 were domestic visitors.
On top of nearly 1 million tourist arrivals, Eastern Visayas recorded 3.3 million day visitors, 37.5 percent more than 2013. Total tourist receipts was estimated at PHP11 billion.
The numbers will likely increase as figures from other municipalities arrive.
The DOT has launched familiarization trips for the travel trade and media in each province as a way of reintroducing their tourist attractions. Called Summer Fun launch, the regional program has recently finished its Southern Leyte and Biliran legs.