APEC spillover, PATA confab overbooks Albay hotels

By Johnny C. Nunez

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 21 (PNA) — In the wake of the just concluded Nov. 16-20 Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders Summit in Manila, what’s now cooking up in Albay, a recently declared tourism destination of choice?

For certain, Albay has benefited from the spillover of the Manila 2015 APEC Summit, even before it hosts in Legazpi City the international Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) conference last week of the month. Hotel rooms here have been overbooked.

Recent related events of course may have also contributed to the surge in the influx of visiting tourists. One such event was the intensive marketing support from the very popular ABS-CBN TV reality show Pinoy Big Brother (PBB) finals, held here Nov. 7-8, which featured Albay’s prime tourism assets.

Albay Gov. Joey Salceda noted that Manila-based employees and their friends, taking advantage of the 7-day break from work created by the APEC Summit, opted for out of town sorties. Many of them came to savor Albay’s top global destinations with their panorama still lingering fresh in their minds from watching teen PBB’s final episode. Two of PBB’s winners are Albayanos.

Albay hosts on November 25-27 PATA’s regional conference, bannered as the New Tourism Frontiers Forum 2015, at the Oriental Hotel here. Participants and their guests have booked practically all premiere hotel rooms here.

The international travel and tourism group has recently named Albay as its Top Global Destination and winner of the USD1-million CEO Challenge Award. The New Frontiers Forum’s originally projected 191 attendance has now swelled to over 360 so that top hotels here are now overbooked.

Aside from the Manila-based employees who opted to convert their “instant holiday” into an enjoyable vacation, unofficial APEC summit participants and students from colleges and universities in Manila found their way to Albay, home to the majestic Mayon Volcano and historic Cagsawa Ruins, both favorite selfie objects in the social media.

The government declared work stoppage during the APEC Leaders Summit officially from November 17 to 20 creating a four-day free week. Some of them, however, went on vacation a day earlier, making the entire 7-day free. Having planned ahead their out of town respite, they actually enjoyed a 9-day vacation, counting in the earlier two weekend days.

As host to the year-long series of senior officials’ and ministerial meetings that was capped by APEC Leaders Summit, the event’s organizers issued public advisories early enough which enabled the people to plan their work-free week ahead of time to visit their families, relatives and friends in the provinces. The exodus also saved them from the monstrous traffic chaos in Manila.

Salceda said ABS CBN reality show PBB 737, which featured Albay’s foremost tourism attractions in the background has recently helped boost domestic tourism. The show was widely watched around the country.

Albay was declared co-winner of the PATA USD1 million CEO Challenge Award for Regional/Provincial category. Salceda personally received the award early this month in London, where spoke strongly about the strong points why Albay was chosen as a foremost global destination and why travel agencies should put it in their list of priority spots. The London event was attended by some 151 tourism CEOs from all over the world.

The governor’s dinner speech drew a strong applause from guests, and many large travel players approached him with assurances that Albay will henceforth be on their list. Consequently, the registration attendance for the November 25-27 PATA New Frontiers Forum in Albay, soared from 191 to over 360.

Salceda has been the driving force in Albay’s strong tourism program for the past eight years, He has introduced many innovations which transformed the province’s sedate travel environment into a bustling world class destination.

The Department of Tourism has declared Albay as the Philippines’ fastest growing tourist destination having posted a sustained tourism growth of 47 percent in 2012; 66 percent in 2013 and 52 percent in the second quarter of 2014 and a soaring increase in foreign tourist arrivals of from 8,700 in 2006 to 339,000 in 2014.(PNA)