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New hotels and resorts are supporting a double-digit growth in visitor arrivals in Legazpi City and Albay this year. Albay saw a dramatic 35 percent growth in visitor arrivals to around 300,000 in 2009, despite the impact of weather disturbances and threat of Mayon volcano eruption, according to Jose Briones, provincial tourism office of Albay.
"We expect another 40 percent growth in arrivals this year," Briones said, citing the increased capacity of the accommodation
Foreign visitors such as Korean families as well as domestic travellers such as college students from Pampanga province, were arriving by plane in Legaspi City even during the lean season in August for sighting of the imposing Mayon volcano, which is considered as the most beautiful in the world.
Newly built and expanded hotels in Legazpi City are now able to accommodate large delegation of tourists and even convention participants.
Albay Governor Joey Salceda confirmed that the opening of the Misibis Bay Resort on Cagraray Island as well as Hotel Venezia and Hotel St. Ellis in Legazpi City are boosting tourism in the province in 2010.
He said the increased tourism in Albay will help Bicol's gross regional domestic product to expand by 12.3 percent in 2010, after posting an 8.2 percent growth last year, which was the fastest among the country's 17 regions.
Salceda is banking on tourism as a major growth driver in 2010, and he said the expected visit of Hollywood actor Leonardo di Caprio in September will further cement the status of Albay as a major tourist destination.
Di Caprio will reportedly stay at the luxurious Misibis Bay Resort, built by the company of construction magnate Elizaldy Co, who also owns Venezia and St. Ellis Hotels.
Genesis Hotels and Resorts Corp. manages the three accommodation facilities in Albay.
Co bought another property near the international airport in Daraga to build another hotel overlooking the awe-inspiring Mayon volcano, which is the main attraction in the province.
Briones said more hotels and resorts are also being planned in the province to take advantage of rising visitor arrivals, with the growing popularity of Mayon watching as well as whale shark interaction in the nearby town of Donsol in Sorsogon.
Major destinations in Albay include the Cagsawa Ruins and the 18th century Our Lady of the Gate Parish in Daraga, Liñgon Hills, and Cagraray Island.