MANILA, Philippines - The local government of Naga is eyeing to spend about P1 billion for various infrastructure projects in the near-term to help attain its goal of transforming the province into an investment and tourism haven.
During the launch of the Naga Excursions (Naga X) packages, Naga Mayor John Bongat said bulk of the P1 billion or P400 million to P600 million would go to the Naga River Rehabilitation Project.
Naga X, a tourism brand, targets group travel and positions Metro Naga as an excursion away from destinations in the region, as well as presenting Metro Naga as a premiere tourism destination.
Portion of the P1 billion estimated budget, Bongat said, would go to other projects such as repair and construction of roads, bridges, promenades and walkways.
“Metro Naga is now gearing up and positioning itself as the tourism hub for Region V,” said Bongat, who is also the chairman of Metro Naga Development Council (MNDC).
MNDC is an alliance of 16 local government units in the Province of Camarines Sur that seeks to bring about accelerated, equitable and sustainable growth and development by maximizing the resources of its members, following an integrated development framework.
With all these efforts, Bongat said they hope to jack up tourist arrivals in the province by 20 percent in the next three years.
Tourism in the MNDC, he said, has been spurred by the establishment of a world-class watersports complex in the Provincial Capitol of Pili, the renowned annual festival of the Lady of Penafrancia, and propped up by the convention and special meetings in Naga City’s hotels, resorts, and other facilities.
Naga, as a tourism service center, has also been given special status after being declared ‘Pilgrim City” under Presidential Executive Order 33, issued in September 2010.
MNDC’s local economic development (LED) Strategy is called Tooling Up for Tourism which aims to bring LED tp the smallest communities of metro Naga, create economic opportunities and alleviate poverty.
Data from the Department of Tourism (DOT) showed that tourist arrivals from the entire Bicol region had been steadily growing by about 18 percent for the past three years. From 3.12 million in 2010, it grew to 3.41 million and 3.68 million in 2011 and 2012, respectively. Local tourists accounted for 75 percent of the arrivals while the rest were foreign visitors.
Of the almost 3.7 million tourists last year, more than two-thirds or 67.61 percent went to Naga and/or Camraines Sur.
In 2010, arrivals in Naga accounted for only 38 percent of total arrivals for the province of Camarines Sur. By 2012, however, this figure rose to more than 50 percent or 12.48 percent.
Naga has seen a substantial increase in terms of the number of accommodation establishments between 2000 and 2012. From just 22 establishments in 2000, there are now 56 operating in Naga with total of 1,609 rooms, compared to just 551 in 2000.