LEGAZPI CITY. — Tourist arrival in Albay soared by over 109 percent in the last three months.
The surge may partly be due to the iconic endowments of the province in addition to its role as gateway to Bicol’s emerging tourist destinations.
Quoting a report from the Department of Tourism (DOT), Albay Gov. Joey Salceda said tourist arrivals in Albay recorded 62,280 tourist arrivals from July to September, 27,290 of whom were foreign while 34,990 were domestic.
The surge boosts Bicol’s new title as the “third fastest growing tourist destination” in the country, he said.
Tourism Secretary Albert A. Lim, during a recent visit to Legazpi City, said Albay with its new and diversified tourism come-ons, is now the third fastest growing tourists destination after Cebu and Boracay.
Lim recommended the speedy, completion of the Southern Luzon International Airport here to make Bicol a top tourist destination and support DOT’s goal of doubling the number of foreign tourists arrivals.
“I will strongly recommend the SLIA to Department of Transportation and Communication as one of the top priority airports in the country,” Lim said.
Another new come-on in Bicol for tourists is the current restive status of Mount Bulusan in Sorsogon which has been showing eruption activities. It now regularly spews ash, lava and lahar materials even as volcanologists said there’s no threat of an explosive eruption yet.
“There is something truly amazing – and disturbing – in the way danger attracts humans. We saw similar display in the Mayon eruption last year, which induced substantial tourists arrivals.” Salceda noted.
The phenomenon, he said, gave rise to a perverse mode of tourist movement – disaster tourism. “Thus, our disaster response strategy had significantly been reconfigured to secure our zero casualty goal since a dead tourist is also a violation of zero casualty,” he added.
Salceda pointed out, however, that the Bulusan Volcano eruption makes Sorsogon a bit different from Albay which has been attracting tourists without risks, and clearly establishing the geostrategic position of Legazpi as the gateway to Bicol destinations.
Still, the governor said, Albay is more comfortable with tourists coming to enjoy their Butanding encounters in Donsol instead of the Bulusan eruption.