LEGAZPI CITY, Jan. 31 (PNA) – “Kung Hei Fat Choi!”
For the first time, some 160 Chinese from Xiamen will greet Albayanos, especially Filipino-Chinese in the province, with these words as they celebrate the Chinese New Year Friday in Albay, specifically in Misibis Bay Rain Tree Resort in Cagraray, Albay, a leisure-entertainment destination.
The arrival Thursday morning of the Chinese guests has been considered by Albayanos as a unique event and a boon to the tourism industry of Albay.
The visitors arrived here on board a direct chartered flight from Xiamen, China.
Governor Joey Sarte Salceda said the new route has opened the door of Albay to other countries.
“First Xiamen, next will be other cities in China, Korea and Taiwan,” Salceda said.
The economist governor said some P6.5 billion will be contributed to the coffers of Albay once the Legazpi airport receives more foreign tourists as an international gateway.
“This amount is almost five times the annual budget of the province,” he said, explaining that a Chinese tourist would spend an average of USD 1,000 for a one-day stay in the province.
Salceda said the tourism industry will open employment opportunities to Albayanos.
For every tourist, there will be at least one local resident that will be given employment or livelihood income, he added.
Gerard Panga, Philippine tourism attache to China, said Albay will be the new tourist destination in the Philippines after Boracay, Cebu and Clark.
Panga said the province has many things to show, not only its natural resources but also its culture and arts, among others.
Tourism Undersecretary Ma. Victoria Jasmin said there is indeed a need for international access outside Metro Manila like Albay.
Jasmin added that there is a need to facilitate the completion of the Southern Luzon International Airport as a result of the influx of foreign tourists.
Aside from this, she said, there will be international conferences to be held in the province like the 150th ASEAN tourism officials meeting and the World Trade Organization meeting in May. In this connection, Albay is very much ready to support the the tourism program of the national government through its tourism-related initiatives like the formation of t he Almasor (Albay-Masbate-Sorsogon) tourism alliance, Salceda said.
In fact, the Department of Tourism has approved at least 321 tourism infrastructure projects for the Almasor.
The Albay chief executive also expressed confidence that the SLIA, located in the neigboring municipality of Daraga, will open before President Aquino’s term ends in 2016.
The DOT allocated P2.2-billion funding for the airport runway this year.
In 2015, he said, there is a need for another allocation of P2.2 billion for the airport terminal and other requirements for its full operation. (PNA) FPV/FGS/NIM/CBD/