SORSOGON CITY: The number of tourists who arrived in the province last year grew 31 percent to 151,323 local and 22,377 foreign tourists or a total of 173,700 from the 2011 total arrivals of 132,696, Provincial Tourism Officer Cristina J Racelis said
“The Kasanggayahan Festival in October and the Sorsogon Festival in December are traditionally huge crowd drawers,” she said.
The butanding (whale shark) in Donsol, Bulusan Lake in Bulusan; the mangrove formations in Prieto Diaz; and hot springs in Irosin are among the major tourist spots in the province, she said.
Many have come to the province this year to visit these destinations, she said.
The mangroves in Prieto Diaz are frequented by biology students and other researchers who study biodiversity and the importance of mangroves, Racelis said. Students arrive there in three to five buses, she said.
Aside from the butanding, international guests, mostly Europeans, visit Donsol for firefly watching at night at the Ogod river bank, the tourism officer said. This encourages visitors to make an overnight stay in the town, she said.
Racelis particularly advised hot springs, like the San Benon hotspring in Irosin, for its therapeutic effects on rheumatism and arthritis.
Many also came to visit the pinkish sand in Subic Beach in Matnog last year, she said.
Subic Beach is at an island 45 minutes’ drive by motorboat from Matnog proper, she said. Since no cottages were put up yet in the area, tourists have stayed overnight in their own tents.
The visitors came from as far as CamSur and Albay and stayed for three days using generators that they brought to provide themselves with power, she added.
Racelis said Bulusan Lake has become an established tourism spot in the province. Boats and other aids were provided by the provincial government to boost tourism.
Tourism helps the province, especially the local government unit (LGU) where the tourism attraction is located, Racelis said.
“When investors see that tourists are arriving, they put up a business,” she said, noting that it is how tourism contributes its share.
The province is helping LGUs to develop tourist sites in their area, Racelis said. Trainings are provided by the tourism office to help them survive and become self-reliant, she said.
She attributed last year’s increase in tourist arrivals to better roads, tourism campaigns and partnership with other government agencies like the Provincial Environment and Natural Resource Office (Penro) and the Department of Education for encouraging the youth help local tourism.
The tourism office works hand in hand with Penro in conservation efforts on tourism sites in the province, Racelis said. “The tourism office works with the environment office so that tourism does not die,” she said.
The youth is encouraged to see local tourism spots and promote them before visiting tourist attractions outside the province, Racelis said.
“We encourage the youth to be ambassadors of tourism,” she said, noting that the young people of today will assume the responsibility in the future.
This year, the Department of Public Works and Highways has prioritized in its annual project the upgrade of roads leading to tourist destinations in the province, said Larry B. Reyes, administrative officer at the DPWH Sorsogon First District Engineering Office. - BusinessMirror