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Sorsogon – Nag-aso Burning Lake at Bacon-Manito forest reservation

Bicol, Central Visayas forge tourism partnership

Written by Danny O. Calleja / Correspondent

THURSDAY, 15 OCTOBER 2009 21:02

LEGAZPI CITY—The Bicol region and Central Visayas have complementing tourist attractions that, when promoted together, will give tourists more options to stay. It is thus to the mutual benefit of the two regions that the forging of a mutual tourism promotion drive is now in the works.

And with the recent opening by Cebu Pacific of direct flights between here and Cebu, the mutual tourism promotion initiative has become more necessary to boost each region’s tourism industry, Maria Ong-Ravanilla, the Department of Tourism regional director for Bicol, said here over the weekend.

Ravanilla said these direct flights three times a week make tourists from Cebu only an hour’s flight away from Bicol’s ecotourism and world-class sporting destinations.

Among Bicol’s more modern attractions is the Camarines Sur Water Sports Complex, located within the capitol compound of Camarines Sur. It played host to the Cobra Ironman 70.3 Philippines, an international triathlon competition that drew over 2,000 tourists last month. It also serves as a regular venue of the yearly international cable wakeboard competition.

Another is the Gota Village Resort in coastal Caramoan, Camarines Sur, which was the chosen venue for two consecutive years of the Koh Lanta, the French franchise of the reality show series Survivor, now being aired by Europe’s major broadcast channel TF1 to an audience of over 12 million worldwide, Ravanilla said.

There are also five places in Bicol identified as key ecotourism sites of the Philippines: the Mayon Volcano in Albay; Mount Isarog in Camarines Sur; the whale shark interaction site and firefly watching in Donsol; the Bulusan Lake in Bulusan; and the Prieto Diaz bird-watching mangrove cove, all in Sorsogon.

Mayon Volcano, the world’s most perfect cone, is one of the 17 protected areas in the Bicol region. It is endowed with diverse natural resources, which is beneficial to students and other environment enthusiasts in the conduct of research and ecotourism activities. There is an ongoing Mayon Volcano Natural Park Eco-tourism Project being conducted for an integrated ecotourism activity in the area, Ravanilla said.

Bulusan Lake is a favorite destination for nature lovers because of its surrounding forests that boast of exotic flora and fauna. It lies 2,084 feet upon the slope of the still-active Mount Bulusan, which is also famous among mountain climbers.

The Prieto Diaz bird-watching site is a vast mangrove-reforestation area located at a wide cove along the western coastline of the Pacific Ocean. It is now a protected sanctuary of flocks of various species of birds.

Sorsogon also has several natural-spring resorts of both cold and hot waters in Irosin town, while the Nag-aso Burning Lake within the vast Bacon-Manito forest reservation recently developed by the Philippine National Oil Co. down its geothermal energy field is another must-visit wonder of nature, Ravanilla said.

In Camarines Sur the Consocep Mountain Resort, nestled on the shoulders of Mount Isarog at an elevation of 1,800 feet above sea level, is another ecotoursim destination in Camarines Sur. It features cool mountain air made more refreshing by the presence of two big waterfalls, Tumaguiti and Bulalacao.

In Masbate the protected manta-ray sanctuary at the Ticao Pass is also a big contributor to the region’s impressive ecotourism performance, while the province’s yearly International Rodeo Festival has been a sporting event attracting both foreign and local enthusiasts.

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