Bicol is major tourism player
By Rhaydz B. Barcia BACACAY, Albay --- The Bicol region is the country’s major tourism player that brings pride and promising growth that contribute remarkable economic development, Tourism Assistant Secretary Frederick “Ricky” Alegre said during the unveiling of the Pacific View Wing of Misibis Bay Luxury Resort in Cagraray Island, Bacacay town over the weekend here. He said that the region’s tourism industry continues to grow with Mayon volcano, coastal breaches, coves, islands, marine biodiversity, protected areas, natural wonders, historic site, rich cultural heritage and tradition, cuisine and festivals as major tourism players that invite tourists to come. He said that for the past seven months this year, Legazpi City achieved 10.13 percent growth in 2017 compared to its record of the same period last year. In 2014, Bicol garnered 3.7 million visitors with almost 3 million of which were domestics, 657,000 overseas Filipinos and 726,000 foreign travelers registering a growth rate of 40.5 percent compared to its performance in 2013. Camarines Sur topped all the provinces with 1.9 million which accounted for 49.97 percent of the total arrivals in the region. Albay is consistently next in rank but the growth for foreign arrivals perked to 99.2 percent rate in 2013 and 12.3 percent in 2014, he said. With the influx of domestic and foreign tourists, the region needs more hotels to accommodate the growing number of visitors. “The unveiling of the Pacific view of the resort is a purveyor of hope and vision for a brighter tourism in the region as we await the infrastructure support that President Duterte has promised and aggressively embarked under a build, build build mantra,” Alegre said. From 36 rooms, Misibis Bay Luxury Resort in Cagraray Island has now 150 rooms that is meant to help address shortfall in room accommodation. In 2015, Bicol had 8,018 rooms from 517 accredited accommodation establishments representing 20.64 percent number of rooms’ growth, according to Alegre. The on-going tourism road network projects under the convergence program between the Department of Public Works and Highway and DOT, rehab of Maila-Bicol railway and construction of Bicol International Airport are expected to boost tourist arrivals in Bicol once completed, the tourism official said. “We see in the horizon the Daraga International Airport and the rehabilitation of the Manila-Bicol railway system with expansion toward Matnot, Sorsogon in the south, and Tabaco City north of Legazpi City that we believe will come into reality soon,” he said. Alegre said that Tourism Secretary Wanda Tulfo-Teo has launched the “Bring Home a Friend” campaign in an effort to attract more tourists to come to Philippines. The program aims to encourage the 10 million overseas Filipinos around the world to bring in to the country at least one of their friends. “This can translate to 20 million visitors if everything else goes well as planned. After all, every progress begins with a lofty dream,” Alegre said.