Gold Jewelcraft from Jose Panganiban, Cam Norte
THE Bicol region recently put its best foot forward as the Department of Tourism (DoT) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) recently showcased the annual OK Bikol-Gayon Bicol Trade and Tourism Fair at the SM Megamall Megatrade Hall.
Now on its 16th year, it is the longest running regional trade fair which brings to the fore the distinct products and tourist spots from the six provinces of Bicol, regarded as among the fastest growing regions in the country.
According to DTI regional director Jocelyn Blanco, the expo is Bicolandia’s vehicle in developing home-grown entrepreneurs citing that some 20% of the exhibitors are first-timers in the mainstream Manila market.
She noted that since its inception, the exhibit has generated some P131.2 million in sales, which excludes other business transactions consummated after the event.
She added that last year alone, OKB-Gayon Bicol earned P17M, the highest sales so far, which marked a 70% jump in its target revenues.
The expo was started by the DTI in 1996 as Orgullo kan Bikol (Pride of Bicol) which initially displayed the cottage industries in the region. The DOT joined in 2001, thus giving birth to the synergy of trade and tourism.
Blanco said that due to the support of the DTI, producers have developed world-class packaging for processed food products which have become more competitive in foreign markets.
DTI also supports micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in product development by tapping local designers to assist OKB merchants in creating new designs for their handicrafts.
Among the products sold were furniture and home furnishings, fashion accessories, processed food and beverage, health and wellness concoctions, pili-based candies and delicacies, and a wide assortment of novelties.
Meanwhile, DoT regional director Maria Ong-Ravanilla said that the expo also highlighted once more Bicol’s popular, as well as the emerging travel destinations and attractions.
She disclosed that to maximize its trade and tourism potentials, the region has been clustered into the Almasor (Albay, Masbate and Sorsogon) Tourism Alliance, the Camarines Circuit and the Caramoan-Catanduanes Tourism Link.
Among the promising spots in the Bicolandia are the pristine white sand island beaches in Calaguas (Cam Norte), Subic and Tikling, (Sorsogon) and Ticao (Masbate).
Spicing up the expo were concerts and entertainment shows featuring Bicolano artists such as Himig Kapitolyo of Sorsogon Province, Jay Perillo, Barbie Almalbis, Lou Bonnevie, Nyoy Volante, Cookie Chua, Jun Lopito, Danica Sotto, and the LRay Dancers of CamSur Province.
There was also a Bayong Fashion Show which showcased trendy earth-friendly native fibers, and a business caravan which provided venues for local business matching and marketing.
OKB-Gayon Bicol is also supported by the Philippine Exporters Federation, the Rural Micro Enterprise Promotion Program (RuMEPP), and the various local government units. - Malaya