Thursday, August 24, 2006

A Letter from DOT Region 6

I received this email from Mr. Edwin Trompeta who is the current Regional Director of the Department on Tourism Region 6, responding to my column in THE GUARDIAN entitled "Oil Spill to Set Back Region's Tourism Industry for Years."

Dear Mr. Mendoza:

I really find your column (The Guardian, August 23, 2006) enlightening especially its positive notes on Guimaras tourism.

It is true that tourism is the first casualty in an incident like the Solar 1 oil spill due mainly to the very sensitive nature of the industry to negative reporting. May I be more positive, however, in saying that the tourism industry in Guimaras is still viable as ever. Please consider the following:

1. Guimaras tourism is not dependent, unlike Boracay or other islands, on its beach resorts alone. Guimaras is popular because of its multi-faceted attractions. It has inland resorts, agri-farm tourism, caves, adventure tourism and other attractions that have not been affected by the oil spill.

2. The so called resorts that have been affected, except for Inampulugan and Nagarao, are mainly day tour destination which can easily recover from the oil spill as these properties do not have extensive investments in facilities.

3. Of the numerous small and large resorts in the island, only around nine (9) small resorts (mostly shed type resorts) have been affected. The more popular areas such as Alubihud, Igang, Ave Maria in Nueva Valencia and Naburot, Tatlong Pulo, etc. in Jordan have not been affected and are not expected to be affected at the current level of the oil spill.

DOT is confident that as soon as matters have been stabilized in the island, the LGU of Guimaras, will be able to recover very fast given a flexible and updated marketing plan which we hope to put in place. DOT is already considering an after oil spill program for Guimaras with the help of our worldwide industry partners.

Thank you.

Very truly yours,

Regional Director

I am glad to learn that "tourism-wise," the oil spill was not as devastating as most people thought (at least according to Director Trompeta). Maybe, while worldwide attention is currently focused on Guimaras, now is the time to show people its natural beauty. Until this tragedy striked, not so many people knew about the island province's white sand beaches, pristine forests and rich marine life (that could rival even Boracay's).

Also, starting today, I will be calling the incident the "Petron Oil Spill" instead of the "Guimaras Oil Spill" as local media outlets have dubbed the tragedy. The people of Guimaras had done nothing to cause the oil spill. By naming the incident "Guimaras Oil Spill," we will be unfairly "stigmatizing" their province and the image of the oil spill will forever stick in the minds of people long after the sludge has been removed. And the oil spill is now not only limited to Guimaras but has already reached some towns in Northern Panay and may soon reach the provinces of Masbate and Leyte. On the other hand, Petron owned the oil and may have some liability in the catastrophe. Let the oil spill "stigmatize" their company.

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