The province of Catanduanes, which is known for its eco-tourism destinations, remains a largely untapped tourism destination, a travel agency group said.

To change this, the Philippine Travel Agencies Association (PTAA) is stepping up tourism promotion to eventually turn Catanduanes into a major tourism destination in the next two years.

PTAA vice president for inbound Danilo Cerdeña said the agency would like to highlight the potentials of Catanduanes and convince tourists that it is more than just “the entry point of typhoons.”

“It is largely an untapped tourism destination. Travelers are hesitant to visit the province because it has the reputation of being the entry point of typhoons into the country. But during our familiarization tour, we have seen the vast potential of Catanduanes,” Cerdeña said.

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PTAA will be coordinating with local government units (LGUs) and the Department of Tourism (DOT) to fan tourist arrivals in the province.

“The PTAA intends to boost tourist arrivals in the province. There is now a demand among travelers for alternative destinations in the country,” he added.

PTAA is also coming out with more tour packages for Catanduanes and its eco-tourism destinations and providing slots for the province’s tourism stakeholders to the association’s various trainings and seminars.

Moreover, the agency is urging the DOT to highlight Catanduanes in international exhibitions.

Slow development

Cerdeña, meanwhile, acknowledged that tourism infrastructure in Catanduanes has to be fast-tracked and tourism trainings prioritized.

“There is slow development in terms of tourism infrastructure and the province itself has yet to come out with a long-term tourism plan. There is also a lack of trainings for its tourism frontline officers,” Cerdeña said.

At present, the agency is banking on Catanduanes, dubbed as the country’s “Happy Island” as an affordable, underrated destination with accommodating and friendly people.

He said that travelers would need only PHP12,000 to enjoy a four days and three nights basic tour package in the province inclusive of promotional airfare and accommodation.

“There is a bit of Batanes and Baler that can be found in the province. And its very friendly and accommodating people are its biggest asset,” Cerdeña said.

Catanduanes is home to tourist attractions such as the centuries old Saint John the Baptist Church, PAG-ASA weather radar station, Balacay View Point, Binurong View Point, Danicop View Deck, Nahulugan Falls, Puraran Beach, and Talisoy Beach.

Data from the DOT showed that only a combined 105,557 foreign and domestic tourists visited the province for the first half of 2016.

The DOT, for its part, expressed support for efforts of the PTTA and vowed to introduce and promote new destinations as part of efforts to meet its target 6.5 to 7 million foreign tourist arrivals by yearend. (PNA)
Photo Credit: facebook.com/claudelyn.palco

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