To bring in P20-M to local economy: Naga to break the 1M mark on tourist arrivals this year
By Jason B. Neola
The conduct of festivals by other regions shall depend on how the Bicolanos celebrated the Peñafrancia fiesta.
That was emphasized by Mario Villanueva, president of the Metro Naga Tourism Council, who said that Covid-19 pandemic is still around that is why everyone has qualms about huge crowds for fear of resurgence of the dreaded disease.
Villanueva, who is also the president of the Metro Naga Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MNCCI), said that other regions in the country are observing on what will be the results of the conduct of the regional fiesta in the Pilgrim City of Bicol Region.
He said that if the fiesta celebration ended without the occurrence of surge, the situation would provide other places like Cebu, and Davao a sort of template for the conduct of their own festivals and fiestas.
“If it happens that no surge of Covid-19 is logged after the fiesta, I will consider such situation to be the beginning of the disease’s transition from pandemic to endemic which means the disease becomes more stable and manageable, spreading in our community at the normal or expected level,” he said.
“Bicolanos should constantly seek for the intercession of our beloved ‘Ina’ as we wish to celebrate the fiesta without compromising the health of every one of us,” he said.
Just a few inputs from LGU Naga’s Arts, Culture, and Tourism Office (ACTO) headed by Alec Francis Santos with regards to this year’s conduct of the regional fiesta:
The effects of the 2-year hiatus of the Peñafrancia Festival on the local tourism industry
Historically, the month of September is one of three distinct peak seasons in tourist arrivals for Naga. The absence of the Peñafrancia Festival for the past two years has negatively affected our tourism industry, which is one of the economic pillars of Naga.
The expected benefits of the resumption of the Peñafrancia Festival
Tourist arrivals declined by 76% in 2020 compared to 2019 and partially recovered in 2021. The resumption of the Peñafrancia Festival is a much-needed boost to tourism related businesses in Naga. On the average, tourists spend an average of P22,000 per visit to Naga so their influx is expected to generate hundreds of millions of pesos in revenues to local businesses.
Preparations that ACTO made for the Peñafrancia Festival
In addition to implementing Covid-19 health protocols, the City Government of Naga, through the Task Force Tourism, has also conducted surprise inspections of hotels, restaurants, and malls in August. Various national government agencies and LGU departments assessed the readiness and compliance of tourism businesses’ facilities and personnel with sanitary and security standards.
How is Naga’s tourism industry faring this year?
In 2019, Naga welcomed close to 1.6 million foreign and Filipino tourists. The onset of the pandemic in 2020 hit the city’s tourism industry hard, resulting in a 76% decline in arrivals. Last year brought in more tourists, around 800,000 or 50% of pre-pandemic levels. With the resumption of the Peñafrancia Festival, we expect to break the 1-million mark this year and help bring in an estimated P22 billion to the local economy.
On road management
The Public Safety Office will be implementing a traffic management plan for every event during the fiesta. The plan will be made public a day before the event. The objective is to be able to prevent traffic disruptions in the city’s major thoroughfares.
PSO Executive Director Renne Gumba said that due to effective road management, it was observed that no piling up of automobiles happened along Roxas Boulevard (former Diversion Road), Panganiban Drive, and some of the city’s main roads last September 9, this year, unlike the traslacion procession in 2019 and the years preceding that year.
Gumba said strategic rerouting and road closures are being arranged based on the event’s number of participants, location, and formation area.
This year’s structure of Joint Operations Center is composed of 7 task groups, namely, the Joint Task Group (JTG) on Traffic Management and Enforcement, JTG Security and Peace and Order, JTG Fluvial, JTG Medical and Health, Joint Information Center Cluster, JTG Utilities, and JTG Emergency Preparedness and Response Cluster.
The Joint Operations Center refers to a jointly manned facility of a joint force commander’s headquarters which is established for planning, monitoring, and guiding the execution of the commander’s decisions on each civic and religious event. The Inter Agency JOC is spearheaded by Mayor Nelson Legacion and Most Rev. Rolando Tirona, OCD, DD as command chiefs.