Subic Bay is now the fourth most popular tourism destination in the Philippines, director of Central Luzon's regional tourism office, Ronaldo P. Tiotuico has said.
In a press statement, Tiotuico announced that the Subic Bay Freeport and the rest of Zambales have soared to the fourth spot, bested only by Cebu, Davao and Camarines Sur, among the top 10 tourist attractions across the country.
The Subic Bay Freeport, he said, made big strides by hosting some 1.67 million domestic and foreign visitors in 2015, 28 percent higher than the 1.26 million visitors registered a year earlier.
The tourism official also cited the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) as instrumental in developing Subic as a major tourist destination in Central Luzon.
"Such a success is attributed to the collective determination of the entire manpower complement of the SBMA under the leadership of Chairman Roberto Garcia,” Tiotuico said.
Garcia meanwhile welcomed the development, pointing out that Subic gained significant attention after it was first recognized by the Department of Tourism (DOT) as the number one tourist destination in Central Luzon in 2013.
"This only validates Subic’s attractiveness, not only as top tourist destination, but also as the convention capital of Central Luzon – titles bestowed upon Subic by the DOT,” Garcia said.
Mary Jamelle Camba, SBMA Tourism Department manager, said Subic has become a favorite location for water sports tourism and nature-related activities.
She said the Subic Bay Exhibition and Convention Center, which has a 10,000 seating capacity, has become a prominent venue for international events and conferences.
"The entire province of Zambales has a total hotel room capacity of 3,418 and of this number, 1,279 rooms are in Subic Bay Freeport,” Camba added.
The SBMA Tourism Department recently participated in the Asia Cruise Destination Forum in Jeju, South Korea to promote Subic Bay to the world tourism community as an emerging pivotal hub for international cruise tourism.
In his statement, Tiotuico also made a fearless forecast that Subic could become the number one destination in the future, as the full transformation of Clark International Airport as a major hub for both international and domestic airlines may also benefit Subic tourism.
"Subic is just a 45-minute drive from Clark. DOT Region III has always recommended the partnering of Clark and Subic as one great holistic destination, the two being connected by a world-class seamless freeway called SCTEx,” he said, referring to the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway.
Tiotuico also described Subic Bay as a well-preserved ecotourism destination, with triple-canopied rainforests and mangroves, mountain trails and indigenous culture, nature-based theme parks and bird-watching sites.
Rounding out the list of the country's top 10 destinations in 2015 were Boracay, Albay/Legazpi City, Metro Manila, Clark/Pampanga, Laguna and Benguet/Baguio City. (PNA)CVL/zst/MD