Tuesday, November 5, 2013

AlMaSor goes to London for Bicol’s global tourism promo
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 4 (PNA) -- The Albay-Masbate-Sorsogon (AlMaSor) tourism alliance is now in London promoting in the annual World Tourism Market (WTM) the travel industry wonders of these three Bicol provinces.

AlMaSor, which is the clustering of Bicol’s three adjoining southern provinces, is the tourism road map of the Regional Development Council (RDC) headed as chairman by Albay Governor Joey Salceda.

It was put in place as an integrated and comprehensive promotion strategy to market the area’s potentials complementing the Catanduanes-Camarines Sur-Camarines Norte Tourism Link (CCTL), another Bicol regional tourism cluster.

The RDC, through AlMaSor which debuted its global exposure at the 2013 Internationale Tourismus-Börse (ITB)-Berlin, is eyeing some 650,000 foreign tourist arrivals annually within the next five years.

ITB is the world's leading yearly travel trade held this year in Berlin, Germany, on March 6-10 and the featuring of AlMaSor in the event notably increased arrivals of European visitors here and in other parts of the cluster.

In the WTM, which will run from November 4 to 7, AlMaSor, along with other leading Philippine tourism destinations and service providers organized for the event by the Department of Tourism (DOT), occupies AS600, a huge stand at 10 Suffolk Street, London.

Among the other Philippine provinces joining are Bohol, Davao, Cebu and Palawan.

DOT Bicol Regional Director Maria Ong-Ravanilla over the weekend here said the LGU participation is part of DOT Secretary Ramon Jimenez’s new program of inviting top 10 provinces that are willing to spend for WTM and invest for global tourism promotions.

Albay province presents in its exhibits, apart from the majestic Mayon Volcano, the Misibis Bay Resort and Casino -- a private tropical hideaway built on a pristine stretch of beach along the southern tip of Cagraray island in Bacacay town.

It is considered as the luxury island playground in the Philippines that boasts of blue waters, white sands and posh villas.

The same resort will host the first conference of the APEC Economic Summit in December and the Green Climate Fund in April which Philippines will be the first 3rd World Country to host.

Both international events will take place next year.

The province also features in the WTM The Oriental Legazpi, a world-class hotel sitting atop a hill overlooking the surrounding lush forest which gives contrast to the tremendous development taking place in the entire urban landscape of this city, the blue beauty of Albay Gulf and the whole edifice of majestic Mayon.

Ravanilla said Masbate presents its world-famous Rodeo Masbateño and many of its still undiscovered eco-tourism marvels while Sorsogon exhibits the wonders of the whale shark sanctuary in Donsol town which has been drawing in both domestic and international tourists who seek underwater interactions with the rare but gentle sea giant.

She said AlMaSor has set up a booth at WTM’s 300-square-meter Philippine Pavilion which is a virtual tour of the Philippines similar to Nayong Pilipino.

UK is among the top five tourism markets of the Bicol Region.

“Bicol has the chance to showcase its tourism destinations to the entire world in just one venue,” Ravanilla said.

“This is the first time that local government units from Bicol are participating in WTM and we consider it a very big break for the region to promote its distinctive destinations,” the tourism official added.

WTM was launched at London's Olympia in 1980 before moving to Earl’s Court in 1992 and then to ExCeL London in 2002.

Almost 46,000 senior travel industry professionals, government ministers and representatives of the international media, converge in ExCeL London each year in November to attend WTM which is organized by Reeds Exhibitions.

This year’s Philippine delegation, according to Ravanilla, is the biggest so far since the country joined the event in 1980.

More than 40 exhibitors from the country, including the DOT, are now at the WTM 2013 along with almost 5,000 exhibitors from 184 countries.

The four-day event that attracts more than 47,000 global travel professionals is expected to generate more than 1.859 million British pounds in travel industry deals.

For the Philippines, she said, DOT projects European visitors to increase by 65 percent to about 575,000 this year and the current arrivals to double to around 700,000 in the coming year. (PNA) LAP/FGS/DOC/CBD/MEC