SUBIC BAY FREEPORT - Tourism attractions in the Subic Bay Freeport Zone and the province of Zambales emerged as the bestsellers in Central Luzon last year, generating more than a third of the region's overall arrival figure of 3.1 million from January to December 2014.
Regional Director Ronaldo Tiotuico of the Department of Tourism - Region III (DoT-R3) said that based on monthly survey reports submitted by accommodation establishments in the region, Subic Bay Freeport and Zambales occupied the first slot among the provinces and cities in the region with 1.2 million arrivals.
Meanwhile, Clark and Pampanga / Angeles City came in second at 0.621 million, while Bataan managed to score a total of 0.199 million, Bulacan, 0.109 million, and Aurora 0.108 million.
Tiotuico said that of the total visitors coming to Central Luzon, Filipino travellers comprised 72% of the total arrivals. On the other hand, travellers of Chinese descent represented the biggest population among foreign visitors at a total of 390,431 or 12.5%; followed by Americans at 95,737 or 3.08%, Koreans at 55,692 or 1.8%, and Singaporeans at 31,200 or 1.00%.
The influx of visitors last year, Tiotuico added, increased the region's arrival figures by 21%, compared 2.7 million recorded in 2013.
This also resulted to a 62% average occupancy rate for accommodation establishments in the region while length of stay for travellers stood at 22 nights with over 1.2 available rooms during the year.
The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) recorded a similar uptrend in tourism arrivals as monitored at the gates of the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEx), with about 6.39 million arrivals who went to Subic mostly on day tours. This figure represented a 12% increase over the 5.69 million arrivals monitored in 2013.
SBMA Chairman Roberto Garcia attributed the increase in the number of Subic visitors to a 43% increase in the number of MICE (meeting, incentive, convention and exhibition) and special events hosted at the Freeport, as well as to a 59% jump in the number of local sports events held in Subic.
"The substantial improvement in the number of MICE and special events has resulted in a corresponding increase in the number of foreign and local participants by 93% and 94%, respectively," Garcia said.
"Likewise there was a credible increase of 75% in the number of foreign participants despite a 6% drop in the number of international sports events held in the Freeport," Garcia added.
The SBMA official also pointed out that Subic has been attracting more overnight tourists recently because of the recent upsurge in the construction of hotels and accommodation facilities in the Freeport.
As a whole, the unprecedented increase in visitor arrivals to the region in 2014 was powered by new developments in Subic and Clark, which have become two of the most favored destinations in the region, Tiotuico also noted in a report released by DoT-R3.
He noted that at the Clark International Airport, total air arrivals stood at 384,221 in 2014 based on Bureau of Immigration arrival cards of air passengers from various destinations. Of the total arrivals, 236,162 or 61% are of Filipino nationality, while 56,591 or 14.7% are Koreans and 23,691 or 0.061% are USA residents.
Tiotuico added that annual surfing event in Aurora, the energized re-constitution of the Association of Tourism Officers of Central Luzon (ATOCEL), and the participation of the region including its private stakeholders and major players to major tourism and travel expositions in Cebu, Davao and Makati, all played a vital role in developing the region as a major destination. (30)