‘Fiesta Bicolandia’ stirs hope for tourism revival

DANCE SHOWDOWN The provinces of Bicol region join the street dance and showdown of festivals on Sunday, such as this contingent from the Abaca Festival of Catanduanes, as a culminating activity of the “Fiesta Bicolandia.” The Department of Tourism staged the event in Legazpi City, the regional capital, to jump-start Bicol’s tourism industry crippled by the COVID-19 pandemic. —MARK ALVIC ESPLANA

LEGAZPI CITY—A fusion of major festivals and products found in the six provinces of Bicol region was launched here early this month to boost local tourism after people were confined to their homes for over two years due to coronavirus pandemic-related restrictions.

Dubbed “Fiesta Bicolandia,” the three-day travel and trade fair began on Nov. 4 and drew about 3,000 local and foreign tourists who were treated to the “wonders of Bicol,” according to the organizers.

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The festivity carried the theme, “Bicol Tourism: Back on Track,” and gave spectators a glimpse of the various tourist attractions and local products and a taste of native delicacies.

“This is a dream come true. Tourism is back on track. Imagine all the provinces being unified with one goal, and that is to showcase their assets,” Herbie Aguas, director of the Department of Tourism (DOT) in Bicol, told the Inquirer.

Among the activities in the pilot staging of the tourism event were mall exhibits showcasing the renowned festivals in the region’s provinces—the Magayon Fest (Albay), Abaca Fest (Catanduanes), Bantayog Fest (Camarines Norte), Kaogma Fest (Camarines Sur), Pamasayan Fest (Masbate) and Kasanggayahan (Sorsogon).

Economy booster

“The event is one way of promoting again [local] tourism activities and stimulating travel movement to stir the economic activity in the entire region after two years of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Aguas said.

He said that with the revival of the tourism industry boosted by the resumption of daily flights—to and from Bicol International Airport in Daraga, Albay, and those in Catanduanes and Naga City in Camarines Sur—and the reopening of DOT-accredited hotels, the region was already prepared to welcome local and foreign tourists who would want to explore “the beauty of Bicol.”