Thursday, April 12, 2012

Tourism chief backs ‘Albay Rising’

LEGAZPI CITY—Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr. has declared Albay as a rising tourist destination in the country after the province pursued an aggressive tourism program that propelled its economic growth.

Jimenez, who was here on Tuesday for the opening rites of Albay’s annual monthlong Magayon Festival, said the investment poured in by Gov. Joey Salceda on tourism programs boosted the province’s economic activity.

Jimenez, citing tourism statistics in 2011, said at least 350,069 tourists came to Albay that year or a 17-percent growth rate compared to the national growth rate of just 15 percent.
In a press conference, Jimenez said at least 3.9 million tourists came to the Philippines in 2010 and 4.6 million in 2011.

Chanting his tourism campaign slogan, he said “It is more fun in Albay” because the people of the province are known for their hospitality.

Albay, he said, has capitalized on people, festivals, history, culture and arts. In tourism, investments on people are needed, he said, because “tourism is a business of the people.”

In the same press conference, Salceda said Albay was now moving toward tourism and agriculture after making its mark in the field of health, education, disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation.

Salceda, adopting “Albay Rising” as the province’s slogan, said the slogan is largely anchored on the development of the tourism industry.

Among the province’s tourist attractions are the active and nearly perfect cone-shaped Mayon Volcano, the historic Cagsawa Ruins and many fine beaches.

The provincial government has prepared a package of 150 events for the Magayon Festival, which is now in its fifth year.

Among the highlights of the festival is the staging of “Dance of the Three Mountains,” a play written by writer Abdon Balde, an Albay native, in the vernacular. The play is about the legend of three sister mountains—Magayon, Masaraga and Malinao—that became the story of Mayon Volcano, too.

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