By JADE LOPEZ, Reporter
WITH Bicol region currently positioning itself as the next adventure tourism destination in the country, an official from the Provincial Government of Camarines Sur (CamSur) is courting airline companies to open a direct flight from Cebu to Naga City, CamSur.
“Cebu is a huge market that Naga City would like to tap,” said CamSur provincial governor Luis Raymund Villafuerte Jr.
Villafuerte told reporters recently that Naga City now caters to 21 flights per week, including a Manila-Naga route. “But we want to open accessibility to Cebu because it has a potential to grow tourist arrivals to the region.”
CamSur, which is among the six provinces in Bicol region, is known for its government-owned sports and adventure tourism facilities and aims to make Cebu as an important partner in drawing not only the local tourists from the Southern Philippines but also to give Cebu tourism stakeholders a wider option of tour itineraries for foreign visitors.
Bicol region is composed of the provinces of CamSur, Camarines Norte, Albay, Sorsogon, Catanduanes and Masbate.
Naga City, the capital city of CamSur, is now an emerging sports and adventure tourism capital in the Philippines, as the provincial government spent multi-million pesos to operate several tourism-related facilities such as the six-hectare CamSur Watersports Complex (CWC), and will soon establish the world’s first largest downhill bike trail.
The province is now becoming one of the favorite destinations of international adventure travelers, especially those from Europe and United Kingdom.
Villafuerte, who started an active government-led enterprise strategy said that because of the province’s active stance in promoting sports and adventure tourism, CamSur earned P90 million in revenue last year, and provided over 3,000 employment opportunities for the constituents.
“Cebu is known for its rich history and wide adventure tourism packages, which could complement with the packages we offer here,” Villafuerte said, citing the popular wake boarding activity at CWC is considered to be the province’s niche offering in adventure sports.
“By providing domestic and foreign visitors with a wider option for leisure activities, we can truly become the leisure capital in Asia,” the governor said.
With a direct flight Cebu-Naga City flight in region 5, Villafuerte said Cebu can also enjoy increased number of domestic and foreign tourists originally booked for CamSur leisure tour and will consider Cebu as an alternative destination.
At present, he said the Provincial Government is trying to convince airline operators like Cebu Pacific, Zest Air, and PAL Express to consider the Naga-Cebu-Naga direct flight option.
Villafuerte revealed a direct flight from Naga to Boracay is set to open next month. “Once this opens, we will tap Cebu next,” he said.