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CamSur now the country's top tourist destination

MANILA, Philippines - Is Boracay, the country’s primary tourist destination, already losing its popularity?

Data from the Department of Tourism (DOT) show that Camarines Sur appeared to have overtaken Boracay and other favorite tourist destinations in the country in popularity among local and foreign tourists.

Citing DOT data, Camarines Sur Gov. Luis Raymund Villafuerte Jr. said the province recorded a total of 2,330,116 foreign and local visitors in 2010 and is now considered as the country’s top destination.

Based on DOT statistics, Villafuerte said Camarines Sur posted a 48.75 percent growth in the number of visitors compared to the previous year.

Metro Manila recorded the second biggest number of tourists with 2,296,475 or 20.37 percent growth, while Cebu placed third with 1,772,023 foreign and domestic arrivals, an almost 10 percent upswing from the previous year.

Boracay, which used to be the number one destination in the country, landed fourth with 779,666 arrivals, or a 4.13 percent growth from a year ago, the DOT data show.

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Villafuerte Jr. said his province maintained its lead due to its accessibility and continuous aggressive marketing.

He also attributed the phenomenal increase in tourist arrivals and the increasing popularity of his province to their aggressive efforts and substantial investments, particularly in sports tourism and ecotourism facilities.

Villafuerte expressed confidence that the province could even triple the volume of tourist arrivals if they have a domestic airport that meets international standards.

A modern and state-of-the-art railway system could also boost tourist traffic, Villafuerte said, as he proposed the privatization of the Philippine National Railways under President Aquino’s Public-Private Partnership (PPP) program.

“An efficient railway system can provide a faster and cheaper means of transporting people and agricultural products and other goods from Bicol to Metro Manila. It will further boost tourism arrivals and make Bicol the new growth area of the country,” he said.

Camarines Sur’s popularity among foreign tourists started when the French edition of the “Survivor” reality show was shot on Gota Beach three years ago. Since then, the beach has become a favorite destination of foreign and local tourists.

Tourism Secretary Albert Lim hailed Camarines Sur’s tourism feat “as a tangible proof of forward leadership and commitment.”

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