Mayon-Fuji sisterhood to be forged

Pia Lee-Brago (The Philippine Star) - March 19, 2016 - 10:00am

MANILA, Philippines – The province of Albay and Japan’s Fuefuki City will sign a sisterhood agreement for their famous volcanoes — Mt. Mayon and Mt. Fuji, respectively — to draft a major marketing strategy and promote global travel.

Fuefuki City, located in central Yamanashi Prefecture, is home to the conical shaped, snow-capped Mt. Fuji, considered to be Japan’s holy mountain. More than half of the city’s land area – 202 square kilometers – are covered by forests.

An eight-member Albay delegation and officials of Fuefuki and Yamanashi met last week at Hotel Hata for the final draft of the pact.

The Albay delegation included Bicol tourism director  Maria Ravanilla, tourism attaché and representative to East Japan Gwendolyn Batoon, Albay tourism officer Dorothy Colle and four board members.

Albay Gov. Joey Salceda will review the final draft before the signing ceremony, which date is yet to be set.

Salceda proposed the partnership last year in a letter to Yamanashi Gov. Shomei Yokouchi, noting the significant resemblance between the volcanoes.

He suggested the possibility of a partnership and collaboration, and pooling of resources and expertise between the local governments for tourism and other purposes.

Salceda’s proposal was accepted by Yokouchi, who sent a delegation here in October last year.

He said the Mayon-Fuji sisterhood is a “fire and Ice” partnership that could benefit not only Albay, but the entire Bicol region.

“Fire” pertains to the 8,000-foot tall, fire-spewing Mayon and “ice” to the 12,000-foot tall Mt. Fuji that is capped with snow for almost the whole year round.

Both mountains are active volcanoes surrounded by national parks and lure tourists from all over the world.

Fuji is a UNESCO Heritage Site, while Mayon is tentatively listed as such.

Albay is a UNESCO Biosphere nominee, which will be taken up at the 4th World Congress on Biosphere Reserve in Lima, Peru next week. 

The Department of Tourism (DOT) has declared the province as the country’s fastest growing tourist destination, having posted a sustained tourism growth of 47 percent in 2012, 66 percent in 2013 and 52 percent in the second quarter of 2014.

Albay’s foreign tourist arrivals soared from 8,700 in 2006 to 339,000 in 2014. Some 376,000 foreigners visited the province last year.

The province’s tourism office has won international recognitions, among them the 2015 CEO Challenge of Pacific Area Tourism Association award.

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