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Officials of the Bicol region invited tour operators and media outfits to the Philippine Folklife Museum for the Bicol Tourism and Investment Meeting/Discussion on Thursday, 20 July 2017, to encourage San Francisco Bay Area residents to explore tourism and investment opportunities in Albay, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Catanduanes, Masbate and Sorsogon.

Deputy Consul General Jaime Ramon T. Ascalon welcomed representatives of Bicol to the Philippine Center, saying that the Consulate welcomes partnerships to Spark*Connect*Empower* the Filipino Community, especially the youth, and to work with local government units to connect our kababayans with their roots and homeland, and discover their Filipino identity and culture.

Deputy Consul General Jaime Ramon T. Ascalon welcomed officials of the Bicol region, the media and travel consolidators to the Philippine Folklife Museum for the Bicol Tourism and Investment Meeting/Discussion.

Recently retired Tourism Director for the Bicol Region, Ms. Maria O. Ravanilla, joined the delegation that invited the tour operators and the media to discover what the region has to offer.  Included in the tourist attractions promoted were Mt. Mayon and Cagsawa Ruins, swimming with whale sharks in Donsol, and the beautiful beaches of Caramoan and Calaguas.  She added that the Bicol region welcomed 10% total tourist arrivals to the Philippines in 2016.

Legazpi Vice Mayor Oscar Robert H. Cristobal requested the assistance of Trade Commissioner Jojie Dinsay to encourage US companies to invest in Legazpi City, and disclosed the City’s desire to become the convention capital of the Philippines.

Donsol Mayor Josephine Alcantara-Cruz mentioned how Donsol used to be a 5th class municipality, and in 20 years, has become a 1st class municipality in twenty years because of ecotourism.  The municipality, Mayor Alcantara-Cruz said, is now a learning center for ecotourism, with Boracay and Bohol learning best practices from Donsol.

Board Member of Camarines Sur Alexander Jaucian reported that the city of Naga is currently the most competitive city in the entire country.  He added that the Camarines Sur Water Sports Complex has hosted four international wakeboarding competitions, while the beaches of Caramoan have hosted 12 seasons of “Survivor”.

Media brought up the issues of weather, safety and internet availability.  The delegation informed them and the travel agency representatives that the Bicol Region is very safe, and that the insurgency in Marawi is isolated to that area.  They also informed the group that PLDT has upgraded its internet facilities to fiber optics, to become even more competitive and responsive to the needs of tourists.

The Tourism Office of the Consulate assured the officials of their continued support in prompting the Bicol region as a tourist destination for US residents.  Travel agents, in turn, assured them that they have already been promoting Bicol to their clients, and thanked the officials for updating them on the region’s new offering.  The Bicol region boasted of over five million tourist arrivals in 2016, one million of which were international tourists.  END

(Clockwise from upper right) Vice Mayor Oscar Robert H. Cristobal of Legazpi City; Camarines Sur Board Member Alexander James Jaucian, Donsol Mayor Josephine Alcantara-Crus and retired DOT Director Maria O. Ravanilla presented tourism and investment opportunities of the Bicol region of the media and travel consolidators.