Iloilo City ranked second to Boracay Island in terms of tourist arrivals in Western Visayas in 2022.
But unlike the island destination that boasts about its resorts and beaches with powdery white sands, Iloilo City lures its visitors through its heritage places, restored plazas, gastronomic experience and the presence of various museums.
“Iloilo City has plenty of attractions. People come here because of historical places, old houses and buildings, and several museums. There are so many things to do once you are here, so many places to eat,” said Mayor Jerry P. Treñas in an interview on Thursday.
The city hosts three art galleries that provide spaces for exhibits of various art collections; 20 museums featuring among others national archives exhibit, World War II archives and collection, history and process of brandy, 19th century Filipino artifacts, maritime artifacts, geology, textile, photography; and three learning centers showcasing interactive science exhibit, a planetarium, and agricultural research.
The mayor said he was impressed by the Brandy Museum at the Iloilo Business Park, which he has visited for the first time.
The city is also a candidate for the title United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Creative Cities Network (UCCN) “Creative City” under the field of gastronomy showcasing how food is making an impact on the culture and lives of Ilonggos.
Records from the Department of Tourism showed that in 2022, Iloilo City registered a total of 752,301 tourists — 734,218 domestic and 18,083 foreign.
Meanwhile, Boracay Island received a total of 1,759, 592 tourists last year.
“What we are doing right now, we continue to improve our bike lane, we plant trees, we have restoration of plazas,” he added.
Treñas said that the city mayor’s office has six Department of Tourism (DOT)-accredited tour guides and a tourist bus that can accommodate guests who would like to avail of the free tour.
City Tourism and Development Officer Junel Ann Divinagracia expressed gratitude to tourism stakeholders, especially the accommodation sector that has been making sure that visitors are comfortable outside of their homes.
Ilonggo hospitality known as “amoma” or taking care of one’s guest is being practiced in various hotels and accommodation establishments.
Among the domestic tourists are working professionals, especially from the business process outsourcing (BPO) firms, who are earning good and would like to experience a different atmosphere from outside of their homes, she added.
This coming July, she said that they are preparing for the gathering of around 4,000 members of the Brotherhood of Christian Businessmen and Professionals. (PNA)