By Samuel M Toledo
LEGAZPI CITY (12-Sept-2012/PNA) – The arrival of domestic and foreign tourists in Bicol is expected to further increase this year due to the series of conventions and festivals across the peninsula, the Bicol’s Department of Tourism (DOT) said.
DOT-Bicol director Maria ‘Nini’ Ravanilla said big conventions involving both government-sponsored and private-initiated were held in Bicol, particularly in Albay and Camarines Sur until mid-2012.
“And more are scheduled to take place in the remaining months of the year,” Ravanilla enthused.
Compared to the 2010 data, Bicol posted a 9.33 average percent increase in both domestic and foreign arrivals in 2011.
The DOT-Bicol data showed that the highest number of tourist arrival was recorded in Camarines Sur with 2,475,820; followed by Albay with 350,629; tailed third by Masbate with 172,446; Camarines Norte, 155,106; Sorsogon, 132,696; and Catanduanes,126,913, or a total of 3,413,610 visitors for 2011.
The biggest number of foreign tourists visited Camarines Sur with 496,603; followed by Albay with 138,373; Catanduanes, 48,049; Camarines Norte, 35,536; Sorsogon, 20,960; and Masbate with 2,517.
The bulk of the visitors came from the Unites States of America, United Kingdom, South Korea, Australia, and Germany.
Ravanilla said that the top destinations drawing thousands of tourists include the Caramoan Peninsula’s white beaches; the Camarines Sur Water Sports Complex; Mayon Volcano; Albay’s and Masbate’s scenic spots; Butanding in Sorsogon; and surfing waters in Catanduanes and Camarines Norte.
The forthcoming fluvial procession as the very highlight of the annual festival of Nuestra Señora de Peñafrancia is anticipated, too, to attract thousands of visitors to Naga City.
“While it is true that the number of tourists who came to Sorsogon to experience Butanding interaction in Donsol town dropped this year due to fewer whale-shark sightings, the big conventions that Bicol hosted and festivals which highlighted added attractions compensate much for this loss,” Ravanilla explained.
The bulk of tourist arrivals were contributed by national conventions of engineers, governors, vice governors, mayors, vice mayors and councilors; and the three-day first tourism conference on climate change adaptation in August, which had some 700 delegates coming from different regions as well as other countries, Ravanilla said.
Another event also attended by at least 30 representatives from ten Asian countries was the ASEAN Conference-Workshop on Climate Change and Tourism that ended this Wednesday.
Ravanilla, however, said that her office is yet to receive reports from the different local government units (LGUs) in Bicol for their respective tourist arrival figures, as part of the new monitoring policy being implemented by DOT this year.
“We are now merely relying from the reports of the LGUs on the tourist arrivals in their respective jurisdiction. This is our new adopted scheme in reporting. Unlike before, our office (DOT) was the one gathering and collating the data on arrival of domestic and foreign tourists in the Bicol,” Ravanilla clarified.(PNA)