TACLOBAN CITY – The Department of Tourism (DOT) launched the Bisita Be My Guest (BBMG) program in Eastern Visayas with Secretary Ma. Esperanza Christina Frasco leading the ceremony held here in the city.
The Tacloban event marks the fifth regional launching of the BBMG, considered a flagship program of the DOT, following a successful launching in Soccsksrgen Region 12) and in Zamboanga Peninsula last May and in Western Visayas last June.
The BBMG was also launched in Metro Manila in December of last year and in international locations such as Tokyo, Japan; Berlin, Germany; and in the United States of America this year.
Local chief executives from provinces, cities, and municipalities, district and party-list representatives from the region, and tourism stakeholders from the region attended the launching of the BBMG.
Frasco, in her message, proudly highlighted the program, stating that it represents a significant step forward in showcasing the breathtaking beauty of the Philippines, with a special focus on Eastern Visayas this time around being the home of most mega biodiversity, as well as wealth in history, heritage, gastronomic delights, and events that help shape the history of the country.
“Nakita natin na there is a massive potential for further development here and that is why brought the BBMG program in hopes that we can bring attention to this region as it offers a wealth of history especially that Limasawa being here, and of course, the Homonhon and home to natures escapes na hindi mo makikita anywhere else in the Philippines,” she said.
Based on the DOT regional office, Eastern Visayas recorded a total of 1,075,294 overnight tourist arrivals, higher than the 723,251 record in 2021 but still a little short of the 1,739,091 record of 2019 or pre-pandemic.
The BBMG is an incentivized promotional campaign program of the DOT to encourage the active participation of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) and Overseas Filipinos (OFs) to promote the Philippines.
In the 2022 data from the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), Eastern Visayas has recorded 550,572 (OFWs).
Of this number, 321,068 OFWs are from Leyte; 80,168 from Southern Leyte; 56,164 from Eastern Samar; 46,552 from Samar; 37,300 from Northern Samar; and 9,320 from Biliran province.
Under the program, OFWs and OFs who invite foreign tourists to visit the country are entitled to a raffle ticket and have a chance to win special prizes.
Additionally, registered participants shall have the opportunity to avail discounts, special rates, incentives from the DOT-accredited enterprises, and packages during the campaign period using the BBMG travel passport and BBMG privilege card.
Sponsors, invitees, and tourists may avail of the card in identified vacation destinations and main gateways in the Philippines.
Sec. Frasco also announced that the agency thru its infrastructure arm, the Tourism Infrastructure Economic Zone Authority, has already allocated funding for the construction of two tourist rest areas (TRAs) in Tacloban City and in Guiuan, Eastern Samar.
Each TRA will cost P10 million and features a pasalubong shop, restroom, and a shower area that are free to use.
(ROEL T. AMAZONA)