TOURISM Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (Tieza) Chief Operating Officer Mark Lapid lauded Bacolod City for pushing and not giving up in its quest for a more vibrant tourism industry.

Lapid led the opening of the 1st Bacolod Trade Expo and Conferences Friday at the newly-opened SMX Bacolod Convention Center.

He said that while others say that Negros Occidental and Bacolod are left behind, he thinks otherwise. Lapid said it takes time and a lot of efforts for a city or any locality to develop its tourism infrastructures starting from the airports, roads, facilities, accommodations, destinations and activities.

“It all starts with the local government to fire up its tourism programs and potentials and then it will go up to the participation of the various sectors,” he said.

Lapid said he is glad that Business Processed Outsourcing (BPO) firms are also in Bacolod.

“It is good that everybody is really accepting and realizing the potential of the tourism industry in our country wherein it gives livelihood to our people. It is among the top contributors to our GDP and a main contributor to our economic development and also a vehicle in producing and creating jobs,” he said.

He added, “When people have jobs, our economy grows. That is the value chain that is being created by tourism. I truly hope that we can proceed with the hosting of the Mice Asia Pacific Exhibition and Conference in 2016.”

There are lot of opportunities are coming to Bacolod, he said. “With this convention center, this will be a new start for the new generation in the tourism industry. It is more fun in the Philippines, it is not because of the beaches and places, simply because of our people because they keep on smiling and our personality makes others come to our country.”

Meanwhile, the three-day 1st Bacolod Trade Expo and Conferences is organized private sector organizations in partnership with the Sangguniang Panlungsod committees on tourism, local and international cooperation, and trade, commerce and industry chaired by Councilor Jocelle Batapa-Sigue, with the support of the Office of Mayor Monico Puentevella, and various non-government organizations.

The one-stop trade and tourism destination includes the MassKara City that features three major zones: namely, a business zone, a plaza and a market.

The Business District that showcases a general trade show, real estate business, hotels and resorts, professional services, products and systems.

It also hosts the 2014 ICT-BPO Expo participated by major business BPO and information technology (IT) solutions companies, and the 2nd Beauty, Health and Wellness Show, presenting the different spas and health centers.

A business platform is provided for product demonstrations and presentations.

“The Plaza" highlights the history of MassKara, and feature souvenir items, MassKara dance performance and exhibits, mask-making sessions, cultural show, and the 35 Years Flashback – Masskara House Party.

"The Market" presents local arts and crafts, gifts, houseware and Negrense delicacies and pastries as well as local products from different local government units in the province.