By CHRISTIAN S TADURAN
and JUAN ESCANDOR, JR
NAGA CITY: Raising doubts on the tourism data provided by the provincial government, at least two gubernatorial bets in CamSur wondered how the province outpaced Metro Manila, Cebu, and Boracay in terms of tourist arrivals making the province a top tourist destination.
Gubernatorial bets Rep Luis R Villafuerte and lawyer Jose Anselmo “Joel” Cadiz accused CamSur Gov.Raymund Luis “LRay” Villafuerte of submitting to the Department of Tourism (DoT) an exaggerated number of the provinces’ tourist arrivals, during the political forum sponsored by the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PCPRV) on Saturday here.
With gubernatorial bet Miguel Luis “Migz” Villafuerte, grandson of Rep. Villafuerte and son of estranged son LRay, the only candidate not present during the PCPRV’s political forum, no one was around to defend the record title achieved by CamSur.
The DoT regional report from January-December 2010 accounted the number of foreign and domestic visitors of CamSur at 2,330,116, besting the perennial favorites like Metro Manila, Cebu, and Boaracay to become top tourism destination in the country.
Metro Manila trailed a bit after CamSur with 2,296,475 visitors; Cebu, 1,777,234; and Boracay, 779,666.
CamSur’s tourist arrival volume was 49 per cent higher than the 1,566,447 in 2009.
The same data revealed that 461,053 were foreign visitors while 1,869,063 were locals.
In Metro Manila, 1,869,871 were foreigners and 815,604 were locals. In Cebu, 712,400 were foreigners and 1,059,834 were locals and in Boracay, 305,569 were foreigners and 474,097 were locals.
Tourism was among the topics discussed in the political forum including the creation of a new province carved out from CamSur and the fiscal management of the province.
“The number of hotel rooms here in CamSur stands at only 2,000; in Manila, more than 100,000; in Boracay, more than 30,000. How is it possible for CamSur to have more tourists than Manila and Boracay?” Cadiz said in Bicol.
“Gov LRayVillafuerte is providing overstated information to the Department of Tourism,” he said.
He added that it is possible the CamSur Provincial Capitol is counting even those who are passing by the province on their way to Visayas.
Asked to react on the doubts raised on CamSur’s record of tourist arrivals, LRay in a text message dismissed Cadiz as “a resident of Naga who does not know what’s happening in CamSur”
“He (Cadiz) says there’s only 2,000 rooms in the whole CamSur, clearly there’s over 4,000 rooms as validated by CamSur’s hosting of Ad Congress. He’s totally ignorant that because of tourism, jobs and opportunities were provided especially in Caramoan where hotels flourished and this provided livelihood and jobs,” LRay said.
“Fishermen earn a minimum of P2,500/boat/day for island hopping which they never earned before. Hotels in Naga and CamSur flourished and daily flights increased. (Cadiz’s) concept of tourism is community based which is vague and shows his ignorance of tourism,” the governor went on.
Last year, DoT reported that CamSur drew 2,249,159 foreign and domestic tourists, retaining its record as the country’s top tourist destination, while followed by Metro Manila with 2,154,644 tourist arrival, and Boracay with 1,206,252.
DOT’s data on tourist arrivals are dependent on what Local Government Units provide annually, Cadiz said.
“That is wrong and we should not believe it because that is not being reflected in the province’s revenues,” he added in Bicol.
When it was Rep Villafuerte’s turn to speak, he jokingly said in Bicol: “For the [CamSur Provincial] capitol, if you are from Naga and you go to Manila, you are already a tourist once you go back home; if you work for the [CamSur Provincial] Capitol, you add to the tourist arrival every day.”
“You need to stay for no less than two days in CamSur to be considered a tourist,” Rep. Villafuerte added in Bicol.
“To minimize confusion, let us separate the domestic and foreign tourists.”
He cautioned “not resort to misinterpretation and falsification of the figures because it is an embarrassment for the province to claim the top tourist destination spot when you do not even see tourists [walking around]”. – Bicol Mail