Tourist arrivals in Bicol from January to November last year increased by more than 9 percent compared to the previous year’s record covering the same period, beefed-up by aggressive promotions of tourism stakeholders in the region.
DOT Bicol regional director Maria 0. Ravanilla said the tourism regional office in Bicol played a good part in the transformation of the region as a major tourist destination through the conduct of various promotional projects.
Last year the DOT in Bicol has initiated the conduct of 6 major promotional projects, two pilgrimage tours, five travel/tourism fairs and 30 festival assistance, including 7 trainings as well as producing 19,500 copies of tourism information materials.
Ravanilla said the six major promotional projects showcased the rich cultural heritage of the Bicolanos, and the region’s natural beauty to help maintain valuable contacts with tourism trade buyers in the United States of America.
The major tourism promotion projects include: On to Mayon 2002, two Bicol Regional Food Festivals held at the Dusit Hotel Nikko, and at the Kamayan Restaurant along Pasay Road, Makati City, the "Pastoras Bikol 2OO2", 4th Bicol Tourism, Trade and Investment Mission to USA, and the launching of the DOT V website www.wowbicol.com.
Along with these was the conduct of two pilgrimage tours - Pilgrimage Tour to Joroan, Albay, and Peñafrancia Pilgrimage Tour in Naga City - to promote the region's devotional and pilgrimage destinations.
To enhance the market exposure of Bicol as well as showcase its tourist attractions, products and services, the DOT regional office took part in five travel tourism fairs like the Pacific Mall’s photo exhibit, Urgulyong Bicolnon, Madya Ilingon, the Infotek Show, the 13th Philippine Travel
Mart, and the "Pistang Pilipino" held at San Fernando Valley, Los Angeles, California, U.SA.
Ravanilla said Bicol was recipient of an award in the 13th Philippine Travel Mart held at the SM Mega mall in Mandaluyong City by placing second for the Best Regional Booth contest.
Ravanilla said that the agency has also assisted national and local activities like Women’s Month Celebration, Honda Dream Caravan Tour to Baguio, Launching of the Institute of Tourism at the Ateneo de Naga University, Nature’s Keeper- "Tukad sa Mayon", the Palarong Pambansa
2002, Isuzu Mayon Volcano Eco-Adventure, Balilk Gubat 2002, TRICON for Region V and Independence Day celebration.
Conscious of its role in making local festivals attractive to tourists, the DOT provided continuing assistance to 30 festivals with media coverage.
Notable is the "Tabak Festival" of Tabaco City which was featured in ABS-CBN Magandang Gabi Bayan hosted by Sen. Noli de Castro: "Coron Festival" of Tiwi town, Albay covered by ANC; "Weekly Rodeo Festival" which was featured in ABS-CBN ETC, ETC program hosted by Boy Abunda and Christine Bersola: "Rodeo Masbateño”, Peñafrancia Festival of Naga City, and Ibalong Festival of Legazpi City which were featured in ABS-CBN TV Patrol segment by Marc
On the other hand, GMA 7 promoted the Magayon Festival of Albay, and Bicol Pastoras Festival, while IBC 13 covered the Pili Festival of Sorsogon City.
Seven tourism trainings and seminars were conducted for the tourism industry stakeholders for better techniques in handling tourists. The seminars conducted were: Tourism Handling, in Daet, Camarines Norte: Tourism Handling for Butanding Interaction Officers and Boatmen in Donsol town, Sorsogon; Seminar-Workshop for Mountaineering Porters, Albay province; Seminar-Workshop for Tourist Passenger Handling for the Sta. Clara Shipping Lines; and Tourism Awareness and Tourism Industry Development; Seminar-Workshop on Homestay and Mabuhay Host Program, and Basic Housekeeping Seminar and Mabuhay Host Program in coordination with the Partido Development Authority which covers the towns of the 3rd district of Camarines Sur.
For information support the agency produced 19,500 copies of promotional materials for domestic and international markets, including flyers for the
region’s six provinces, (E-Z Map of Albay, WOW Bicol Tour Packages) and CDs of WOW Bicol under "More than the usual" campaign.
Another factor that contributed to the development of tourism in Bicol was the Southeast Asian Airlines (SEAIR) flight from Cebu to Legazpi City which was started August last year through the efforts of the city government led by Mayor Noel Rosal and supported by the Albay Chamber of Commerce and Industry as well as the DOT.
"Under negotiation with the Trans Asia Shipping Lines is the opening of a regular sea travel from Cebu to this city", said Ravanilla.