Bicol tourism council moves to address obstacles challenging Triple C cluster

November 11, 2014 5:40 am 

By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 10 (PNA) -– The competitiveness of the newly formed three-province cluster of tourism development area (TDA) in Bicol is being challenged by obstacles ranging from limited market access to lack of industry manpower capabilities, according to local tourism authorities.

These obstacles were identified during recent assessment and validation activities conducted by the Bicol Regional Tourism Council (BRTC) toward the preparation of a development strategy that would be included in the Tourism Development Plan (TDP) for 2015–2020, Department of Tourism Regional Director Maria Ong-Ravanilla based here on Monday said.

The cluster, known as the “Triple C,” was formally formed by the BRTC last September through the signing of a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) among the governors of the three provinces involved — Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur and Catanduanes.

The MOA ensures the commitment of each province to the tourism alliance that would seek to address the obstacles challenging the TDP which, apart from working with local government units in developing their areas and setting up tourist facilities, also works with the private sector towards the pouring in of more investments, Ravanilla, who chairs the BRTC, said.

Its formation as another TDA in Bicol is part of the 2011-2016 National Tourism Development Plan (NTDP) that recognizes every part of the region a tourist attraction, thus, the clustering that provides strategic directions and programs that would make local tourism products more competitive are formulated.

The improvement of market access, connectivity, destination infrastructure and enhancement of tourism institutional, governance and industry manpower capabilities, Ravanilla said, are the primary strategies that the BRTC are instituting toward this end.

A technical working group (TWG) composed of the regional offices for Bicol of the DOT as lead agency and the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), Department of Budget and Management (DBM), Department of Agriculture (DA) and Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), as among the members, works on these strategies.

Other members are the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Department of Science and Technology, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and Philippine National Police (PNP).

These agencies form the panel of permanent members of the TWG while governors Luis Miguel Villafuerte, Edgardo Tallado and Araceli Wong of Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte and Catanduanes, respectively, as well the mayors of Naga and Iriga cities and all the 56 municipalities covered by the three provinces are current members, according to Ravanilla.

In the recently concluded initial leg of the assessment that ran for three days, the TWG made rounds at the cluster’s key tourism areas to check on the hospitality facilities, transportation and communication, cuisines, security and safety, existing homegrown products and specialties, rest room areas and other basic concerns that would affect the impression of domestic and local tourists, she said.

“We named the Triple C cluster ‘Gems of the Pacific’ for its geographical location which is along the rim of the Pacific Ocean,” she said, adding that there are two sub-TDAs under this cluster — the Caramoan-Catanduanes Tourism Link (CCTL) covering the tourism town of Caramoan, Camarines Sur and the entire Catanduanes area; and the Camarines Tourism Circuit (CTC) to cover the rest of Camarines Sur and the whole of Camarines Norte.

For the CCTL, Caramoan, which lies at the northeastern tip of Camarines Sur separated by Maqueda Channel from the island-province of Catanduanes, covers the Caramoan Peninsula where a group of exotic islets serving as a major ecotourism destination sits.

Caramoan town is home to Gota Village Resort, a leading destination for tourists coming from France and other European countries after it was included among the 14 best tourism destinations in the world by Top Resa 2008 in Paris and adjudged ecotourism destination of the year in the 2009 edition of Nature, one of France’s biggest travel fairs.

Catanduanes, on the other hand, is a pearly island in the Pacific that is virtually untouched, unspoiled and unexplored.

It is a promising travel destination owing to its ecotourism wonders, dive sites and sea surfing venues along its long string of palm-fringed beaches backed by jungle-covered mountains and crowned with jewel-like islets.

The island offers a totally laid-back rural charm, a beautiful natural environment and plenty of easy action at a pace that’s always relaxed.

For the CTC, Camarines Sur has been a long-time tourist destination with its Camarines Water sports Complex (CWC) and Peñafrancia Festival of Naga City while Camarines Norte is famous for its Bagasbas Beach and Calaguas Islands known for its pristine beaches of a long stretch of powdery white sand.

Calaguas Islands was named number one Philippine Gem last year and one of the top emerging destinations in the country.

Other tourist attractions in Camarines Norte are the Mananap Falls, Mercedes Group of Islands, Calalanay Beach, Mt. Bagacay, San Pascual Water Falls, San Jose Beach, Mampurog River, Black Nazarene of Capalonga and Pulang Daga Beach. (PNA)

LAP/FGS/DOC/CBD

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