Legazpi City to play host to Chinese tourists during Ibalong Festival

LEGAZPI CITY– A series of chartered direct flights will be flying hundreds of Chinese tourists from Xiamen City, China into this city as it celebrates the Ibalong Festival.

Xiamen-Legazpi direct flight press conference
Xiamen-Legazpi direct flight press conference
Photo: Mayor Noel Rosal
The first flight is scheduled to arrive Friday, August 8, carrying 165 passengers who will stay for four days and three nights.

All of them will be billeted at the Misibis Bay Resort and Casino in the nearby Sto. Domingo, Albay.

Misibis Bay is a posh resort hotel considered as a private tropical hideaway built on a pristine stretch of beach serving as a luxury island playground along Cagraray Island.

At least two other flights, are also scheduled to arrive on August 11 and 16, Mayor Noel Rosal announced in a press conference here today.

Ibalong Festival

These Chinese tourists will be in the city in time for the celebration of the Ibalong Festival, a yearly non-religious fiesta depicting Bicol’s early beginnings based on the Ibalong Epic.

“This is the longest-running tourism promotion-related festival in the Bicol region that expresses warmth and goodwill to all people and encourages visitors and tourists to celebrate with the Legazpeños,” Rosal said.

These events will be an added entertainment to the Chinese tourists who are very much interested in Mt. Mayon and going around lava fronts around its foot on board all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), Stephen Chen of the China International Travel Service (CITS) said during the same press conference.

“During their stay, these Chinese tourists will enjoy the overflowing of celebrations in this prime tourist destination known in the whole travel industry world as the City of Fun and Adventure,” Rosal said.

This Xiamen-Legazpi direct chartered flight project was arranged with Cebu Pacific and CITS by the city government under Rosal in partnership with the management of Misibis Bay headed by business tycoon Elizalde Co.

Initially, these series of chartered flights from Xiamen will scheduled to continue until October this year with four flights a week. However, Misibis general manager Ian Mayer Varona said that they are working on an arrangement with Ceby Pacific and the CITS to extend it to the end of the year.

“Hopefully, next year and onward, we would be able to arrange a year-round direct flights program with the Legazpi Domestic Airport as the gateway while we are waiting for the completion of the Southern Luzon International Airport (SLIA) in nearby Daraga town,” Rosal said.

This new airport, which has been placed by the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) as a priority project intended to boost Bicol’s booming tourism industry, is scheduled to be completed and put into operations before the end of the term of President Benigno Aquino III in 2016.

Gateway for international flights

The opening of the Legazpi Airport as gateway for direct international flights came last January with the arrival of the maiden chartered flight of Philippine Airlines with 156 Chinese tourists from Xiamen on board. 

It was first arranged by the provincial government of Albay under Gov. Joey Salceda with local and China-based travel agencies as a program in line with the Aquino administration’s policy to achieve inclusive growth through tourism that will have direct impact to the community.

Each of these tourists spends between US$ 500 and US$ 1,000 a day. The arrival of some 230 tourists weekly would mean as much as US$ 230,000 in revenue for the city and some parts of Albay where they would be buying souvenir items and food, Rosal said.


Tourism will definitely take on a crucial role in the city, the province of Albay, the Bicol region and the country in its pursuit for inclusive and horizontal growth that will benefit not only big investors such as hotel operators but also the people in the countryside, where most of the tourist destinations are located. It will provide more opportunities for employment and business ventures, the city mayor said.

“The opening of the city as a gateway for direct international flights takes advantage of the foreign market trend that shows that international tourists do not tend to favor a local destination as they follow a cycle leading them from one place to another,” he added.

Parallel with these developments, what the city government is doing is improving its capacity to accommodate more tourists, taking into consideration that the city is also swiftly emerging as one of the country’s convention capitals.

“We are now hosting an average of 20 big conventions and similar occasions yearly, bringing into the city around 60,000 visitors each year. So far, we only have 2,009 hotel rooms that can accommodate in one occasion some 5,000 people,” Rosal said.

More accommodation facilities are needed, which is why the city government has been encouraging and attracting more investors to venture into this endeavour. The response is very encouraging, he added.–by Danny Calleja/PNA/CTB/FGS/DOC/CBD—BICOLSTANDARD.COM

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