Manila (Philippine Daily Inquirer/ANN) - The province of Camarines Sur drew more foreign and domestic tourists last year, besting perennial favorites like Metro Manila, Cebu and Boracay to become the top tourism destination in the country, according to official government data.
All told, a total of 2.33 million visitors came to the province in 2010, drawn mainly to the Camsur Watersports Complex and the Caramoan Island.
The January-December 2010 reports of Department of Tourism (DoT) regional offices, local tourism offices and accommodation establishments showed that CamSur posted the biggest arrival volume in the province¿s history with 2,330,116 foreign and domestic visitors.
CamSur was followed by Metro Manila with 2,296,475 visitors; Cebu, 1,772,234; and Boracay, 779,666.
The province¿s tourist arrival volume was 49 percent higher than the 1,566,447 in 2009. The same data revealed that 461,053 were foreign visitors while 1,869,063 were local.
In Metro Manila, 1,480,871 were foreigners and 815,604 were locals. In Cebu, 712,400 were foreigners and 1,059,834 were locals, and in Boracay, 305,569 were foreigners and 474,097 were domestic tourists.
¿The provincial government has found a winning formula in promoting its two crown jewels¿the Camsur Watersports Complex (CWC) in Pili and the beaches of Caramoan Island-as one tourism package," provincial board member Angel Naval said in a statement.
¿The best way for our senators to help preserve the province¿s international reputation as an ecotourism and extreme sports capital is to ditch the House [move to partition, which] is guaranteed to mess up this tourism master plan," Naval added.
In a separate report from the DoT research and statistical division, it was disclosed that of the 3.1 million foreign and domestic tourists that visited CamSur and the rest of Bicol last year, 626,690 were foreigners, 54,969 were overseas Filipinos and 2,441,022 were domestic tourists.
The bulk of the foreign tourists who visited CamSur and the rest of Bicol last year were from Europe at 201,679 and North America at 99,012.
Another provincial board member, Warren Senar, noted that Camarines Sur¿s status as the country¿s top tourist attraction should serve as a strong impetus for the Senate to block the ¿split Camsur initiative¿ of the House of Representatives, which they described as an ¿unpopular, divisive and retrogressive¿ scheme.
Meanwhile, former Assistant Local Government Secretary Ferdinand Topacio said that, alongside the eventual income loss for the mother province, the proposed Camsur split would disrupt the synergy of the province¿s development agenda, which promotes it as the country¿s ecotourism capital.
A case in point is that the proposed new province of Nueva Camarines will disconnect Caramoan Island from Camarines Sur, ¿thereby destroying the unified promotion of CamSur as a prime destination for wakeboarding," Topacio noted.