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Albay tourism booms despite restive Mayon

LEGAZPI CITY --- Lava effusion from Mayon Volcano’s crater continues for eight straight weeks as reported by the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS). Since June this year, the glowing lava lighting up the volcano’s summit has been a nightly spectacle as it towers over the dark skies.

These nightly glows, along with occasional ash puffs and rockfalls have become added attractions that draw more tourists in the province, said the Albay Provincial Tourism, Culture, and Arts Office (PTCAO).

“Our office recorded a higher number of visitors for the first quarter this year compared to the same period last year. We have a 22% increase in same-day visitors and 5% in tourist arrivals,” PTCAO Chief Dorothy Colle said.

Mayon’s activities have become clearly visible after the escalation to Alert Level 3 on June 5. From 53,902 same-day tourists in June last year, it has spiked to 94,075 this year. Tourist arrival also increased from 75,458 to 81,993.

Colle said same-day visitors usually came from neighboring provinces for a day trip or a few hours of visit while tourist arrivals are those who stayed in accommodation facilities for at least 24 hours.

Safe spots

The Cagsawa Ruins Park in barangay Busay in Daraga, Albay is still one of the commonly visited safe spots to marvel at Mayon’s majestic beauty.

“Visitors in Cagsawa Ruins increased to 300 -500 this June since the escalation to alert level 3, compared to 150-200 visitors in the previous months,” Colle said.

She added that the stores also extended their business hours to accommodate the influx of visitors. Accommodation facilities also reported the frequent request of clients for rooms with a view of Mayon.

Colle noted the increase in visitors as a big help to boost the local economy as it translates to added income for various service providers including accommodation, transportation, food, and souvenirs. The PTCAO has identified 27 safe spots for Mayon viewing. One of these is in Barangay Tamaoyan, where the giant statue of Albay’s patroness Our Lady of Salvation is located.

Agapita Pacres, Legazpi City tourism officer, said before Mayon’s unrest only a few visited this area, but since June, food vendors are now staying on the spot to cater to Mayon viewers.

Visitors can freely and safely view the nightly spectacle of glowing lava oozing down Mayon Volcano’s crater from the Daraga Church in Daraga Albay. The spot is 12.01 kms away from Mayon. (PIA5 photo)

There’s more in Albay

Aside from Mayon viewing, the province offers safe accommodation facilities for Meetings, Incentives, Conferences/Conventions and Exhibitions (MICE).

Pacres said the city hosted 92 MICE this June with 10, 470 participants, which is the highest number for the 2nd quarter this year.

“Most of our visitors are photographers. For the MICE, there were no cancellations despite the escalation to alert level 3 this June. In fact, the number of participants increased compared to April and May,” she said.

Albay also abounds in tour packages, shopping centers, souvenir shops, and restaurants that cater to tourist’s needs, tastes, and convenience.

Pacres said the all-terrain vehicle adventure is a must-try.

Despite the earlier suspension, Colle clarified that the ATV operation has resumed and is still ongoing noting that terrains along Mayon were re-routed away from the danger zones to ensure safety.

PHIVOLCS Legazpi Resident Volcanologist Dr. Paul Alanis said foreign media have likewise visited and coordinated with their office for updates.

Alanis said although fewer volcanic quakes were recorded in the past days, other parameters such as rockfall and sulfur dioxide emission remain elevated. As such, there is still the possibility of a violent eruption. (PIA5/Albay)

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