BATANGAS, Philippines – The province of Batangas registered the highest number of tourist arrivals in Calabarzon in 2018, based on a report released by the Department of Tourism (DOT).
According to Batangas Provincial Tourism Officer Sylvia Marasigan, the province had 14 million visitors in 2018 until early 2019, registering a 68% increase from the previous year.
"Based on the statistics taken by [the] DOT, Batangas ranked number 1 in terms of number of visitor arrivals for day trips and overnight stays, and we attribute this to the pilgrims visiting the province," she said.
Marasigan referred to this as "faith tourism," citing the influx of visitors during the arrival of Padre Pio's relic, and tourists visiting the Marian Orchard in the town of Balete as well as old churches in Lipa City, or the "Little Rome" of the Philippines.
"Statistics also show that 60% of our visitors are composed of millenials from Metro Manila who go to our beaches, while 40% are families and pilgrims," she added.
Because of this, the province is focusing on 3 kinds of tourism programs highlighting "Food, Fun, and Faith in Rich Batangas."
Image courtesy of the Batangas Provincial Tourism and Cultural Arts Office
"Fun" covers adventure trips, with activities in Taal Volcano and the bay area featuring the Verde Island Passage. "Food" includes inland tours in farm tourism sites, while "Faith" focuses on pilgrim tours.
"At the moment, our office is focused on developing tourist areas by making sure that they are registered either in the province or directly with [the] DOT, because if you are registered, then you have to maintain certain standards, and when you maintain standards, you're able to improve your service to the tourists. That is the only way to sustain," Marasigan said.
Among their efforts is the protection of the Taal lake and island as it serves as a source of livelihood for residents in 11 surrounding towns. Being a protected area, the only type of activities allowed is "slow tourism," such as hiking and boating.
With the newly launched campaign, Batangas is gearing up for a spike in tourist arrivals this summer season. – Rappler.com