Updated on March 28, 2014 | 8:49 PM
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DOT: Albay, now a Tourism Powerhouse with 66% growth in 2013

Albay Provincial SeaLegazpi City (PNA) - Albay, with its exciting natural wealth and strong sales pitch that brought in some 800,000 foreign and local tourists in 2013, has now emerged as the country’s tourism powerhouse. It posted an “astounding tourism growth rate of 66 percent” last year.

Tourism Assistant Secretary Benito Bengzon, who handles the Department of Tourism’ (DOT) international promotion, disclosed these figures when he guested at the March 24 opening of the Daragang Magayon Festival 2014, one of the country’s longest and foremost festivals with substantial contributions to the country’s tourism industry.

Addressing his huge audience here, Bengzon said Albay “is poised for tourism supremacy” backed up by a direct connection to the international market, an original and successfully designed tourism branding, and a strong leadership that binds together all the stakeholders towards one goal and under one vision.”

The Daragang Magayon Festival, he said, is one of the most popular and most visited festivals in the country and this is a result of the vision and leadership of Gov. Joey Salceda. “Its popularity is a testament to all the hard work of your governor and all the stakeholders involved in the pursuit for excellence,” he added.

Bengzon cited four factors that made Albay a tourism powerhouse: inviting fun destinations, direct connectivity with the international tourism market, successfully developed tourism branding which has created “an impressive portfolio that captures the imagination,” and effective local governance and leadership.

On its direct connectivity with the international tourism market, he cited the offloading here recently of two direct flights from China, which he said will further be consolidated with the completion and opening of the the Southern Luzon International Airport in the province by 2016,

Regarding Albay’s successfully designed and developed local tourism branding, Bengzon said the idea of Albay as an inviting and fun tourist destination seems to have captured the imagination of the foreign tourist market.

Complementing these considerations and “the most important,” he added, is the strong local leadership that has “successfully converged all stakeholders to work in achieving one goal under one vision.”

Daragang Magayon Festival, now on its 14th year of month-long observance, has also proven to be the most participated festival in Bicol. This year’s first day presentation, Festival of Festivals , was joined by eight competing contingents from the region’s six provinces.

Albay’s First Pili Festival has also been incorporated in the Daragang Magayon Festival 2014. The Pili nut is a major industry in Bicol and Albay, with the widest land area planted to Pili, is now the biggest producer of Pili delicacies and hand crafts. (PNA)

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