CSCCI jumpstarts Camsur Business Expo 2022 with 1st Bicol Tourism Expo

By Kyna de Castro


The Camarines Sur Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CSCCI), in partnership with the Provincial Government of Camarines Sur, officially opened the CamSur Business Expo 2022 with the 1st Bicol Tourism Expo on June 16-18, 2022 at the Capitol Convention Center. With the theme, “Exploring New Frontiers and Extraordinary Experiences”, the 1st Bicol Tourism Expo highlights the tourism industries and stakeholders that thrived and embraced innovations amid the global pandemic.


The three-day event was participated in by over 50 exhibitors from different stakeholders in the tourism industry as well as lecture discussions highlighting salient talks on farm tourism, local sustainable tourism development plans, international tourism after the COVID-19 pandemic, and online marketing tips to reboot the Bicol tourism industry. Moreover, the event provided an avenue for online selling where exhibitors are given the platform to promote and sell their products, packages, services, and other tourism related deals where audiences at the venue and online can take part.


“Indeed, the pandemic made us realize things we never imagined. Borders closed, travels cancelled, parties were not allowed, and even clubs were discouraged. Bridges we built for each other were completely shut down. The tourism industry is one of the most affected by this pandemic and, right now, I am delighted to see everyone gathered here as we open the 1st Bicol Tourism Expo Hybrid Edition,” said Alma Joann Villegas, Chairperson of the 1st Bicol Tourism Expo as she delivered her opening remarks to welcome the guests.


“Through the 1st Bicol Tourism Expo, the CSCCI will be able to introduce, to highlight the industry stakeholders that have continuously prospered and embraced innovation amid the challenges we face. Today, we are able to visit booths, exhibitors with exciting twists on tourism destinations, farm tourism, sports tourism, and food tourism. We have highly recognized hotels and resorts with specific facilities, tour operators, agents, and major travel and transportation providers,” she also added.


The LGU Pasacao, LGU Minalabac, LGU Albay and LGU Sorsogon also presented and showcased what their local tourism industries and businesses can currently offer and how they had managed to operate and cope with the impacts of the pandemic. Thus, encouraging local tourism especially responsible and safe travels under the neo normal.


The Department of Tourism (DOT) Regional V Director Herbie B. Aguas also graced the event as he presented the Bicol Regional Updates and Announcement for an overview of the current state and trends in our local tourism industry as the region slowly recovers and emerges from the damages brought by the pandemic.


Consul General Edgar Badajos of the Philippine Consulate General in Los Angeles, California also provided a relevant lecture on the International Tourism after the COVID-19 pandemic.


Farm Tourism as the new thriving trend


The agricultural sector plays an integral role in farm tourism. With the farm tourism as the new thriving trend amid the pandemic, the Department of Agriculture DA RFO5 conducted a seminar on Registry for Basic Sectors (RSBSA), ATI Bicol Programs and Services, and DA RFO5 interventions and responsibilities to farmers, associations, and cooperatives engaging in Farm Tourism.


“Being here as partner at the 1st Bicol Tourism Expo is indeed an extraordinary experience. This theme also perfectly captures the fruits of farming. To agri-preneurs, farming brings bountiful produce and products along with many challenges,” shared DA ATI RTC 5 Regional Director Elsa Ani Parot.


“Farming, at a new level, is innovative; it is forward looking. Farming is an extraordinary profession. It supports life, it is indispensable. Kung kayo na lockdown noon, wala kayong magawa, kami po sa agriculture were very busy with our Plant, Plant, Plant Program. Ang magandang nangyari sa agriculture sector are the emergence of farm tourism sites and mga bagong farming communities, ” she also added.


She also stressed, “If you have a farm, start developing it now because farm tourism ang isa sa mga paraan na yung itatanim mo noon, pwede ka rin mag harvest ngayon.”


Because of the Farm Tourism Act of 2016, farms are now formally recognized as catalyst for the development of agriculture and fisheries communities, as well as a source of additional income for farmers, farm workers, and fisher folk. Through farm tourism, the significance of agriculture and how it helps protect natural resources and the local culture, which benefits tourism, is realized.


Centering on introducing farm tourism as a way to reboot local tourism, local farmers and farm tourism business operators as well as stakeholders were invited to be exhibitors and participants in the event. They were also given the opportunity to learn through an informative discussion on what they need to know on developing profitable farm tourism sites with Mr. Rommel Nataunan, the Chief Tourism Operations Officer of DOT Region V.


Salvacion Garchitorena, 63 years old, owner of Manuel’s Garden Integrated Farm in Pinaglaban, Goa, was one of the exhibitors at the 1st Bicol Tourism Expo. According to her, “Mahalaga talaga ang event na ito sa tulad naming small farmers dahil natutulungan kami maka-link sa mga agencies para makahanap kami ng tulong sa kanila. Sila yung lumalapit sa amin dito at sinasama kami sa mga projects nila sa mga fund ng government. Nadi-discover nila na meron pala mga small farmers na nandun sa mga kabukidan na gumagawa ng mga produktong paninda para pandagdag kabuhayan.”


“Ang event na ito ay magandang experience as exhibitor and as a participant kasi nabuksan ang avenue ng business namin. Kami sa barrio, ang bumibili lang yung mga ka-barrio namin. Bihira po kami lumako sa bayan. Saka lang kami nakilala ngayon,” she also shared.


The Manuel’s Garden and Integrated Farm is accredited by the ATI Bicol as an agriculture learning and training center. Salvacion also mentioned that being with big businesses at the expo gave her a wider network as they asked for her calling cards for orders of their products especially restaurants looking for suppliers. Overwhelmed and grateful for the opportunity for their business to be recognized and to be known through the event, she expressed her gratitude to the organizers, “Maraming salamat po sa Camarines Sur Chamber of Commerce and Industry at sa Provincial Government of Camarines Sur kasi dahil po dito mas lumawak ang aming avenue para ipakilala ang aming business at mga produkto.”


Exposure for tourism and hospitality management students


The 1st Bicol Tourism Expo also provided a new learning opportunity and exposure especially to students in the tourism and hospitality management courses. Not only were they equipped with new knowledge by attending the seminars and lecture discussions, they were also exposed to the tourism industry stakeholders which they will be part of in the future.


Lourdes Stephanie Enriquez, a graduating student of BS Tourism Management at Ateneo de Naga University and currently the President of Tourismo Ateneo, was one of the attendees of the event. She shared, “Our organization, Tourismo Ateneo, was invited by the CSCCI. We got to see the activities, programs, and objectives. We attended this event because it is very substantial in our field. As a tourism student and as a future tourism professional, it will really improve our learnings, our experiences, and most importantly our educational level in the field.”


Recalling the damages brought by the pandemic to the tourism industry, Lourdes also said, “Ang hirap talaga nung nag-start yung pandemic especially for the tourism industry. In this kind of event, we get to finally explore all the tourism opportunities in the new normal. Because of this event, napatunayan natin na tourism is changing but it can grow in resiliency and creativity. Tourism is versatile as it is.”


“This tourism expo is really highly relevant. Malaking tulong po talaga itong event sa mga businesses/ organization getting here face-to-face not virtually. They got to engage with the markets and improve its brand awareness to people,” she also added.


Tourism operations in the neo normal


Local resorts are one of the businesses that were widely affected as the pandemic broke out. Most resorts had to close and lay off its workers as it can no longer generate enough profit to sustain the resort management and operations because of the travel restrictions and health protocols.


In Pasacao, the summer capital of Camarines Sur, despite the closing of several resort because of the pandemic, there are new emerging resorts that boldly faced the challenges in the business. Among these resorts is the Sea n’ Sand Beach Resort located in Balogo, Pasacao.


“During the pandemic, as in bumaba talaga ang sales namin. Nag-summer na, pero negative talaga yung result ng pandemic sa amin. But now, bumabalik na siya. Bumabalik na ulit yung income namin at slowly tumataas na ulit yung sales at mas na-develop o napaganda na namin yung resort. Mas dumadagdag na ulit yung guest na bumibisita kasi di na masyado mahigpit yung restrictions,” shared Cindy Remo, Operations Manager of Sea n’ Sand Beach Resort.


The Sea n’ Sand Beach Resort was among the exhibitors at the expo. In Pasacao, only two resorts had the opportunity for the exhibition. According to Cindy, “Very thankful kami na na-invite kami sa 1st Bicol Tourism Expo dahil na-promote namin yung resort. Very advantageous na mag-join sa ganitong event kasi hindi lahat ang nakaka-attend dito for exhibit. Because of this event, maraming natutulungan na businesses na promote ang kanila mga products/services at na encourage na pagandahin lalo yung negosyo nila. Mas umuunlad ang negosyo, mas umuunlad ang turismo.”


“Nagpapasalamat kami sa CSCCI and sa provincial government kasi kung wala sila, walang ganitong event na magaganap. Walang exhibitors, wala kami dito. Thankful kaming masyado kasi hindi gaanong magastos, n- showcase namin yung aming business, at the same time, naging masaya pa kami maging parte nito. Bilang exhibitor, namulat din kami sa mga opportuntites sa ganitong event,” she gratefully added.


Through the provincial government’s collaboration with CSCCI, the 1st Bicol Tourism Expo showed the genuine support of the government and other agencies to local businesses to help in boosting our local economy and to revamp the local tourism industry.


The 1st Bicol Tourism Expo is the first event in the line-up of the CamSur Business Expo 2022. The 5th Food and Beverage Expo is scheduled on August 18-19, 2022, 4th CamSur Construct on September 2-3, 2022, 5th Bicol Agri Summit on September 29-October 1, 2022 and 8th Regional Youth Entrepreneur Congress on October 20-21, 2022.