Batangas businesses converge for tourism alternatives
Arnell Ozaeta ( - February 8, 2020 - 5:54pm

BATANGAS, Philippines — Business as usual for other establishments in Batangas except for those directly affected by the Taal Volcano eruption last month. 

This is what Batangas Gov. Dodo Mandanas stressed at the Batangas Economic Recovery Round Table (BERRT) held at the Lima Park Hotel Friday.  

“The other part of Batangas facing Balayan Bay and Batangas Bay are generally safe for visitors and tourists. We invite all of you to continue to visit and enjoy the cultural heritage of Batangas and the Fun, Food, Faith Tourism it offers,” he said.

Mandanas said Batangas has been clustered into two parts for tourism purposes: the lakeshore towns with access to Taal Lake which was devastated by the volcanic eruption and the bayshore with access to the sea by way of Balayan Bay and Batangas Bay, and partly Tayabas Bay. 

For Visita Iglesia, tourists can visit the National Shrine of Padre Pio and old churches in Batangas City and Lipa City. The Senakulo also takes place in Montemaria in April, and the beaches are open this summer. 

Organized by the FAITH Colleges under its Batangas Development Summit initiative, BERRT is a private sector-led multi sectoral initiative to effectively coordinate the economic recovery efforts in the province of Batangas following the Taal Volcano eruption.

The discussion covered the disruption and losses that the Taal event has brought to the local Batangas economy, particularly the tourism supply chain, and how various sectors can contribute to building a disaster-resilient province.  

For his part, Vice Gov. Marc Leviste, chairperson for the Committee on Tourism, said that he sees this challenge as an opportunity to boost Batangas tourism outside the volcano. 

“There’s more to Batangas than just the volcano island, though I have to admit that it is a big blow to our tourism industry. This is also a good opportunity for us to highlight and focus on other areas not limited to our beaches but other popular summer destinations,” he said.

Leviste admits that there will be a bit of hesitation for tourists to come, but believes that a proper plan will allow the province to compensate for the loss of income and tourist arrivals previously provided by the Taal lake and volcano. 

"I’m familiar with the concept of adventure tourism or thrill tourism, when Mayon Volcano was erupting there were photo hobbyists flocking to Albay and Legazpi City to experience firsthand the eruption of the volcano. Many people do this - from skydiving to zipline, jumping from waterfalls - we just have to develop a plan that can assure the safety and security of the people inasmuch as we will take advantage of 'dark tourism', we cannot risk one life,” he added.   

Batangas is a popular summer destination because of its proximity to Metro Manila. Aside from the pristine beaches in Matabungkay and Laiya in San Juan, it is also home to the Verde Island dubbed as the center of marine biodiversity in the world.

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