Bicol watersports attract 2.33 million visitors; Cebu’s beaches, resorts bring in 1.7 million

Camarines Sur, the new watersports adventure capital of the country, has edged out Metro Manila and Cebu as the top tourist stops in the Philippines.

This is based on the report of the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) report using data from the Department of Tourism’s (DOT) regional offices.

In 2010, CamSur overtook Metro Manila and Cebu as the top tourist destination in the country with 2.33 million visitors, the NSCB said.

Metro Manila was second place with almost 2.3 million visitors and Cebu was third with 1.77 million visitors.

Cebu, which has an international airport like Manila, used to be the number 1 destination in 2008 with  1.6 million visitors.

Camsur was then a distant placer with only 721,024 visitors after Metro Manila’s 1.35 million and Baguio City’s 814,975 visitors.

In 2009, CamSur dramatically improved its rank to the third top destination with 1.56 million visitors. Metro Manila was first with 1.9 million visitors and Cebu was second with 1.6 million visitors.

Camsur made the leap by opening the Camsur Watersports Complex, the largest wakeboarding facility in Asia.

The unique park is designed for waterskiing, waterskiing and  and wakeskating and has a 6-point cable ski system. It recently hosted the Ironman 70.3, the first time the Philippines hosted this international triathlon event.

The idea of establishing  a major center for adventure sports was the brainchild of Gov. Luis Raymund “LR” Villafuerte, who is on his third and last term as governor and plans to run as congressman in the second district in 2013.

Tourism is a major economic driver in Cebu’s economy, largely relying on the island’s reputation for beaches, resorts, combined with an urban lifestyle that allows shopping and varied restaurants, along with Cebu’s  cultural and  historical appeal as the oldest city in the country.

Nationwide, foreign visitors on the average stayed for nine nights. Overseas-based Filipinos stayed for 19 nights based on visitor sample surveys for the period 200 to 2010, according the NCSMB.

Over the last decade, a tourist spent around $90 per day on the average. About 33.2 percent was spent on accommodation, 22.8 percent on food and beverages, and 21.4 percent on shopping.

Foreign tourists spent mostly on accommodation while balikbayans (visiting overseas Filipinos) splurged mainly on shopping.

“If we want to generate income from tourism, our entrepreneurial choices are clear.” the NSCB said.

However, tourist spending has noticeably declined.  The averages for 2009 and 2010 were generally less than those for 2001 to 2008, said the NCSMB.

Tourism is one of the priority sectors in the Philippine Development Plan, which says the domestic economy must grow at a rate of 7 to 8 percent per year in the medium term (2010 to 2016) to curb poverty.

Over a three-year period from 2008 to 2010, Metro Manila still attracted the most number of visitors in the Philippines at 5.6 million, the NSCB said.

Cebu was second with almost 5 million visitors and Camsur was third with 4.6 million visitors.

For the same three-year period, Metro Manila had the lead over Cebu, Camarines Sur, Baguio City, and Boracay among the top five visitor draws in the Philippines.

The NSCB noted positive developments in other destinations as well. The statistical agency said the growth rate of foreign visitor arrivals in Boracay and Palawan in 2010 was higher than in Bali, Indonesia, which is an internationally well-known tourism destination.

This comparison came from data from DOT Region VI and from Bali’s immigration statistics.

The decelerated growth of visitor arrivals in Bali for 2005 and 2006 may be attributed to the 2005 Bali bombings as well as several travel warnings against non-essential trips to Indonesia, the NSCB said.

However, in terms of visitor numbers for the year, Boracay and Palawan received only 10.9 percent and 5 percent, respectively, of the foreign visitors received by Bali.

original source: