ILOILO City – The eruption of Taal Volcano in Batangas province won’t adversely affect hotel bookings here for the Dinagyang Festival, according to the Iloilo Hotels Restaurants & Resorts Association (IHRRA).
They have so far counted less than 20 cancellations of hotel room reservations since the volcano erupted on Jan. 12, said Happy Abenir, IHRRA spokesperson.
The booking cancellations were results of airlines cancelling their Manila – Iloilo City flights due to the eruption, she explained.
Abenir, however, noted that airlines have started to normalize their flight schedules a week after Taal Volcano became restive.
“We hope Taal Volcano will continue to quiet down. But we here in Iloilo City are not as adversely affected unlike our counterparts in Tagaytay City. We have lots of visitors from all over Visayas and Mindanao,” said Abenir.
In fact, said Abenir, some IHRRA members already reported being fully booked weeks before the Dinagyang highlight on Jan. 26 (ati tribes competition).
But she assured tourists there are sufficient rooms to accommodate more visitors as the festival highlight draws near.
“We have lots of hotels,” said Abenir. “We understand that the Taal Volcano eruption is something beyond anyone’s control but our hotels and restaurants are making sure visitors will be comfortable and well taken cared of.”
The IHRRA expects a bigger number of Dinagyang visitors this year.
“We will be putting our best foot forward. We will give the best service. When they leave after the festival, we want our guests to bring with them beautiful memories of their stay in Iloilo so they would keep on coming back,” said Abenir.
IHRRA has 75 member hotels, restaurants and resorts.
This year’s Dinagyang will be the festival’s biggest edition in years, according to Mayor Jerry Treñas.
“We will be pleasantly surprised. The Iloilo Festivals Foundation, Inc. (IFFI) has lined up a lot of exciting activities,” said Treñas.
Dinagyang is the Hiligaynon word for revelry or merrymaking.
The festival is known for its participants’ impressive choreography and striking costumes that reflect Ilonggo ingenuity, craftsmanship and artistry.
It has been voted the “best tourism event” three times in a row – 2006, 2007 and 2008 – by the Association of Tourism Officers in the Philippines.
The city government tapped the newly organized IFFI – made up of prominent Ilonggo businessmen – to handle this year’s Dinagyang.
Dinagyang Festival started in 1967. A replica of the Santo Niño de Cebu was brought from Cebu to the San Jose de Placer Church. The image was enthusiastically received by the Ilonggos who danced on the streets of Iloilo City./PN