The Philippine Experience (PhilEx) Program’s Bicol leg recently celebrated resounding success, immersing visitors in the vibrant tapestry of Bicol’s art, culture, and heritage from October 8 to 10. Delegates were treated to a three-day, first-hand experience across the provinces of Albay and Sorsogon.
On the program’s final day, delegates visited Misibis Bay Resort in Bacacay, Albay; Bambusetum in Ligao City; and Farmplate in Daraga, Albay.
Beyond savoring the flavors of local products and cuisines, guests were captivated by the beauty of Albay’s tourist destinations.
According to DOT consultant Patricio “Junjet” Primor Jr., the Bicol region is poised to become one of the top tourist destinations in the Philippines, Asia, and even the world.
“Daming hidden gems, daming places to visit, ang sasarap ng mga food, my God! The people are all smiling. Bicol deserves the place to be, please come and experience Bicol,” said Primor in an interview with Bicoldotph.
DOT Secretary Christina Garcia-Frasco echoed this sentiment, commending the exceptional local dishes and encouraging the mayors from Cebu, who were also part of the delegation, to return to Bicol.
“The presence of Mayors from Cebu is also to drive awareness from the people of Cebu towards this region as it is our hope that the Cebuanos would come and go and support the economies of the Bicol region in terms of tourism especially that there are available flights,” Sec. Frasco added.
Sec. Frasco acknowledged that, although Cebu boasts a well-developed tourism industry, there is still much to learn from the Bicol region, particularly in the realm of gastronomy tourism.
Bicol’s recent tourism data
According to DOT V Regional Director Herbie Aguas, Camarines Norte ranked first, followed by Albay and Camarines Sur in terms of tourist arrivals in the region as of August 2023 data. The same order goes in terms of domestic tourist arrivals. Albay thought ranks first in terms of foreign tourist arrival, followed by Camarines Norte and Camarines Sur.
Meanwhile, there are 632 accredited tourism enterprises in Bicol, of which 541 are primary tourism businesses such as hotels and resorts, travel and tourism agencies, tour guides tourism. And the remaining 91 businesses are secondary tourism enterprises which belong to agritourism farm sites, restaurants, tourist shops, etc.
As of August 2023, recorded tourism revenues in the region is at one (billion) pesos. DOT Bicol recorded three (billion)-peso in revenues in year 2022. Aguas is confident that they will hit the same revenue as the recording was only until August this year. Naga City’s Peñafrancia festival was not included yet in the data which traditionally attracts a massive influx of visitors and contributes significantly to the region’s tourism revenues.
During the PhilEx, tour operators, travel agents and wholesalers were given the opportunity to have business-to-business (B2B) discussions on tourism landscape and explore collaboration opportunities.
The B2B meetings are designed to cater to the specific needs and requirements of these business entities, allowing for tailor-made discussions that could result in mutually beneficial partnerships. Through this, both concerned parties can prioritize their partnerships suitable for both sides of business.
Regional Director Herbie Aguas expressed his gratitude to all the delegates, highlighting the success of the event.
“Sana sa pag-uwi niyo dala niyo pa rin ang ngiti na ang dahilan po ay ang Bicol region, kaya sana sa pag alis niyo bukas sana po ang isip niyo ang pagbalik niyo rito sa Bicol region”, Aguas stated, emphasizing the hope that the experience would leave a lasting, positive impression, enticing them to return to the Bicol region in the future. | God Frey Las Pinas