BALER, Aurora, Philippines – The tourism industry in this province continues to grow, with tourist arrivals in the first semester this year surpassing the 2010 figures.
Gov. Bellaflor Angara-Castillo said the number of tourists in the province for the first six months of 2011 already reached 73,689, way above the province’s 68,395 tourists in 2010.
“This is remarkable,” Angara-Castillo said of the growth of the local industry.
Michael Palispis, provincial tourism officer, said a threefold increase in tourist arrivals in the province is expected in the next five years.
Records showed that visitor arrivals in the province reached a record-high of 68,395 in 2010 from a measly 8,774 in 2005. The province lured 11,534 tourists in 2006; 10,778 in 2007; 27,935 in 2008 and 52,316 in 2009. In recognition of the feat, Palispis was adjudged provincial tourism officer for 2010 by the DOT.
Palispis said the number of visitor arrivals recorded in the province was even a conservative estimate since this did not include those who checked in “home-stay” facilities, adding that two of the major hotel facilities in this capital town are always fully booked.
The provincial government is aggressively promoting tourism with the crafting of an Aurora Forest Recreation and Rest Area, Park Development (AFRRAPD), a provincial tourism blueprint which it submitted to the Department of Tourism for inclusion in the National Tourism Master Plan.
Included in the AFRRAPD are the construction of a hotel, conference hall and recreational facilities for water sports activities such as wakeboarding, jet skiing, kayaking, rappelling, and mountain trail.
Angara-Castillo said the tourism blueprint is one of the priorities in her development agenda codenamed health, which stands for health, education, agriculture, livelihood, trade and tourism and human resource development.
She said that the provincial government has also launched its own “Balik-Aurora” campaign where balikbayan tourists are fetched at the airport and brought to various destinations in the province in line with the declaration of the years 2011 to 2016 as the country’s “Homecoming Years for Pinoys.”