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Catanduanes’ tourism industry showing more vigor—DOT

Tuwad Tuwadan Hill & Beach, Balagñonan, Pandan, Catanduanes
Photo: Catanduanes Tourism Promotion
With an increase of 19.77 percent in tourist arrivals in the third quarter of last year compared to the same period in 2014, the tourism industry in the Bicol island-province of Catanduanes is showing more vigor, according to the regional office of the Department of Tourism (DOT) here.

This increase formed part of the consistent growth of the province’s quarterly rate of arrivals last year as in the first quarter, it leaped 23.81 percent or from 31,847 to 39,432; and 15.18 percent from 46,380 to 53,424, both compared to the same periods of 2014, DOT Regional Director Maria Ong-Ravanilla said here on Monday.

For the last quarter of 2015, reports from the Provincial Tourism Office (PTO) was yet to be received by the DOT regional office but Ravanilla said they are confident that the upward trend would be maintained when figures of arrivals still being collated from various local accommodation outfits are completed.

This confidence, she said, is drawn from the fact that during the whole of last year, no strong typhoon hit the island called the "Land of the Howling Wind" being the first landmass to be kissed by the waves of the Pacific Ocean, exposing it to most typhoons crossing the country.

Ravanilla also acknowledged the Catanduanes PTO’s aggressive tourism promotion using the social media -- which is the cheapest, fastest and today’s most far-reaching publicity carrier.

Indeed, Catanduanes, according to her, is a promising travel destination owing to its off-the-beaten path ecotourism wonders, dive sites and sea surfing venues like Puraran Beach where waters offer thrill and adventure reeling with surf, sand and sun and featured as the island’s tourism icon sitting amid the backdrop of scintillating coves and rolling hills.

Added to these are the historical Bote Lighthouse in the province’s municipality of Bato, the Libtong Falls in San Andres town and the Binurong and Balacay Points -- both in Baras, which all have been favorite picture-taking venues by netizens posting photographs in their social media accounts, she said.

The province also boasts of Twin Rock Beach Resort and Puraran Surf Resort, respectively, located in the municipalities of Virac, the provincial capital, and Baras town, the province’s surfing capital.

The social media exposure generated by these postings helps a lot in the promotion of the province’s tourism potentials apart from national and local governments programs that recognize the island as a rapidly-developing province, which President Aquino has included in his administration’s countryside development agenda as a tourism growth area, Ravanilla noted.

She attributes these local tourism industry gains to the unrelenting support that the national government is providing to the vigorous promotion and site development that the provincial and municipal governments are initiating all-year round.

“The provincial government headed by Governor Araceli Wong has been working closely with all the mayors of the 11 towns of the province in the development of the local tourism industry, thus, these achievements,” she stressed.

Ravanilla said her agency realizes the potentials of the island as a world-class ecotourism destination, the reason why it has been included in the formation last year of the “Triple C” cluster, a local tourism industry development alliance called “Gems of the Pacific”, for its geographical location which is along the rim of the Pacific Ocean.

The cluster involves part from Catanduanes, the provinces of Camarines Sur and Camarines Norte -- all comprising a tourism development area (TDA) as identified in the 2011-2016 National Tourism Development Plan (NTDP) of the DOT.

Ravanilla said two sub-TDAs form this cluster -- the Caramoan-Catanduanes Tourism Link (CCTL) covering the tourism town of Caramoan, Camarines Sur and the entire Catanduanes area; and the Camarines Tourism Circuit (CTC) covering the rest of Camarines Sur and the whole of Camarines Norte.

For the CCTL, Caramoan, which lies at the northeastern tip of Camarines Sur separated by Maqueda Channel from Catanduanes, covers Caramoan Peninsula where a group of exotic islets serving as a major ecotourism destination sits.

For the CTC, Camarines Sur has been a long-time tourist destination with its Camarines Water sports Complex and Peñafrancia Festival of Naga City while Camarines Norte is famous for its Bagasbas Beach and Calaguas Islands, known for its pristine beaches of a long stretch of powdery white sand.

“Catanduanes, along with every part of Bicol, is practically a tourist attraction, that is why all its six provinces are included in the regional tourism development cluster defined by the NTDP. What we do under this clustering is putting in place strategic directions and programs that make their tourism products more competitive,” Ravanilla said.

The three other provinces —- Albay, Masbate and Sorsogon -- have earlier been formed into the AlMaSor Tourism Alliance, which is tagged as the “Soul of the South” of Philippine tourism industry.

The tourism development programs in both the Triple C and AlMaSor are being done through the improvement of market access, connectivity, destination infrastructure; and enhancement of tourism institutional, governance and industry manpower capabilities, she said. (by Danny Calleja, PNA)

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