The Virac Tourism Program is expected to take off this year with the final planning initiated by the local government last week.
Tourism officer-designate Mariel T. Torzar disclosed that upon instruction of Mayor Samuel V. Laynes, the LGU sent a team composed of 20 members of the Municipal Tourism Council on a three-day Study-cum-Observation Tour Jan. 25 to 27. After the tour, the team conducted a workshop to finalize the planning for the different tourism activities to be implemented in the municipality.
During the tour, the team went to Camalig, Albay and Donsol, Sorsogon to observe and study the different experiences the local governments had on their tourism programs.
The Camalig leg featured the success of Sumlang Lake, a water basin area which was converted into a lake, which now is being visited by more than 250 tourists daily. Sumlang Lake is a Community-Based Tourism (CBT) destination organized by the barangay and the lot owners at the area and initially funded through the Bottom-Up Budgeting (BUB) program with the support of the Department of Tourism (DOT) and the local government.
Three successful CBTs were visited by the team in Sorsogon: Bulusan Lake in Bulusan and the Whale-shark (Butanding) Watching and Firefly Watching in Donsol. Mayor Josephine Alcantara Cruz unselfishly shared the success of her tourism program which resulted to the improvement of the local government’s classification from 5th class to 3rd class.
According to Mayor Cruz, the secret of Donsol’s tourism success is anchored on her CLEAN program: Community-based, Legislation, Environment, Adoptive, and New innovation.
Meanwhile, during the team’s courtesy call on her office last Jan. 27, DOT-Bicol Regional Director Maria Ong-Ravanilla expressed optimism that Virac would finally propel its tourism this year with the initial activity. She expressed her belief that the capital town will be the center of tourism in Catanduanes, as it hosts most of the facilities that visitors need.
The prospect of firefly watching in Virac has particularly captured the imagination of Mayor Laynes, who notes that fireflies are also abundant in his farm.
A local tourism advocate, Ferdy B. Ocol, crows that Virac has more to offer than other towns in neighboring Bicol provinces. Aside from its pristine white beaches, lush green environment and vast biodiversity, he cited the potential of bird-watching, with the Catanduanes bleeding-heart dove abundant in the municipality.
Ocol said this sub-specie of the wild dove locally known as “Kulokulo” is believed to be very rare and near extinction or already extinct but can de widely found in the province, particularly in Virac.
Among the potential tourism sites and activities in the municipality identified in the workshop were: the CSU Mangrove Park in Palnab; the longest beach in the island said to be found in Pajo; the Tres Karas de Kristo, Pawikan Hatching Site and Bird Sanctuary in Talisoy; the Fish Sanctuary in Magnesia; the Tabrilla Hills in Valencia; and the Virac View Deck and Monkey Interaction in barangay Danicop.
Mayor Laynes likes the potential of the view deck project now being initially developed by the local community through the lot owners and other stakeholders in the area.
Laynes said he believes that tourism will bring in new and additional opportunities not just to the constituency but to the economy of Virac and the whole island province.