Naga tops tourist arrivals
By Jose B. Perez, Editor
NAGA CITY — Albay and Legazpi City combined may have registered the highest growth rate in tourist arrivals at 66.93 percent in 2013, but Naga City, although a landlocked and non-traditional tourist city, remains to be the top performer in tourist arrivals during the same period, besting all the 6 provinces and 6 other cities in Bicol.
According to a summary report submitted by the Department of Tourism regional office in Legazpi City, a copy of which was obtained by Bicol Mail through the Naga City Events, Protocol and Public Information Office (CEPPIO), Naga City in 2013 posted a total of 859,743 tourist arrivals (domestic and foreign), followed by Camarines Sur which had 664,000 and Legazpi City with 615,380 tourist arrivals.
Running fourth is the Province of Albay which had 259,078, and on fifth spot is Camarines Norte with 230,157 tourist arrivals.
In terms of foreign tourists that bring in more revenues, Legazpi City in 2013 posted the highest at 263,568, followed by Naga City at 184,000.
Camarines Sur, though running third, fared poorly with only 94,925 foreign tourists during the same period.
This is the first time that DOT tabulated the number of tourist by specific province separate from its respective cities where before, until 2012, tourist arrivals were summarily lumped by province such that tourist arrivals in Albay and Legazpi were figured out as one (Albay), in the same manner that Camarines Sur was combined with the cities of Naga and Iriga. Tourist arrivals in Tabaco City and Ligao City, however, remain to be reported under the province of Albay.
Iriga City, by the way, mustered a total tourist arrival of 38,240 in 2013, where as much as 90 percent are domestic tourists.
While Camarines Sur, Naga and Iriga combined registered a total of 1,562,877 in tourist arrivals in 2013 (where Naga alone accounted for 859,743), the number is actually lower than the 2,527,159 tourist arrivals the combined province and two cities posted in 2012, or a declining growth rate of -38.16%.
For some ten years now, Camarines Sur and Naga City combined spurred the highest number of tourist arrivals, where at best it jointly accounted for almost two-thirds of the regional total.
Interestingly, Albay and Legazpi City combined recorded a total of 874,458 tourist arrivals in 2013, an impressive improvement over their total tourist arrivals of 523,832 in 2012, which is equivalent to a growth rate of 66.93%, the highest and very much ahead among the other Bicol provinces and cities.
Sorsogon City and Sorsogon province together posted the second highest growth rate at 46.18%, owing to their combined tourist arrivals of 253,981 in 2013, from only 173,740 in 2012.
Regional total drops
Because of Camarines Sur’s declining performance, Bicol’s regional total tourist arrivals of 3.7 million in 2012 went down to 3.2 million in 2013, or a total growth rate of -12.61%, the worst performance ever recorded so far,unlike in the past ten years when all the provinces marked increasing figures in their tourist arrivals.
Except for Camarines Sur, the growth rates in all other Bicol provinces and cities actually went up, suggesting that more tourists, both domestic and foreign, are going down south of Manila. Camarines Norte had a growth rate of 20.55 percent (tourist arrivals went up from 190,018 in 2012 to 230,157 in 2013); and Masbate Province and City posted a growth rate of 12.80 percent, from 176,967 in 2012 to 199,263 in 2013.
Camarines Sur used to lord it over when the Camarines Sur Water Sports Complex (CWC) and Caramoan’s white beaches and exotic islands were topbilled as Bicol’s leading tourist destination icons.
Meanwhile, in the 2013 competitiveness ranking of cities and municipalities of the Philippines prepared by the USAID and the National Competitiveness Council, it was revealed that Naga City ranked 5th in terms of most number of hotel rooms (1,668), followed closely by Legazpi City at 6th with 1,630 hotel rooms. Expectedly, the City of Manila topped the ranking with its 7,524 rooms.