For instance, she said, summerpromotions of tourism establishments are given publicity support by the tourismdepartment. “With our bid to protect our health isour appeal to the people of Western Visayas to visit local destinations. Ourprivate sector is willing to give big discounts to those who are from WesternVisayas,” she said. (PNA) “It’s the local government unit’scall,” said Catalbas. Meanwhile, Catalbas said the provinceof Aklan, and particularly its Boracay Island, is the “hardest hit” by thecoronavirus scare in terms of tourist bookings. ILOILO City – The safety of citizensmust be the first consideration of local government units (LGUs) in holding orcanceling tourism events, stressed Director Helen Catalbas of the Department ofTourism in (DOT) Region 6, citing the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)threat. She, however, made it clear that DOT-6will respect the decision of LGUs in either holding or canceling tourismevents. The festival draws an estimated100,000 revelers annually. But she added: “If there are eventsthat will be pursued, the local government concerned should put precautionarymeasures.” Although the regional director wasunable to gauge by percentage the decline, she said DOT-6 is countering thedecrease with “aggressive promotion”. “Whatever or how much is the decline,our answer to that is the hotels in Boracay and Iloilo City have promotionalrates,” she said. There are also booking cancelations inhotels in Iloilo City, she revealed. DOT-6 is also pushing to strengthenthe umbrella campaign “Experience Western Visayas first”. She said the eightmillion people in Western Visayas can greatly help the tourism industry. Pintados de Passi Festival will pushthrough on the third week of March. Passi City’s Mayor Stephen Palmares saidprecautionary measures will be observed.