What's at stake for tourism in Southern Luzon after Taal eruption

Michelle Ong, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 15 2020 11:21 AM | Updated as of Jan 15 2020 11:37 AM

What's at stake for tourism in Southern Luzon after Taal eruption 1
A motorist takes a selfie with Taal volcano in Tagaytay city, a day after its explosion, Jan. 13, 2020. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA -- An "ecosystem" of resorts, hotels and their suppliers generated P1 billion in Tagaytay City, the visitor hub of the region that is shrouded in ash from the Taal Volcano, the Department of Tourism said Wednesday.

The P1 billion represents "direct and indirect" contributions to the city's economy and excludes other tourist spots in Calabarzon that are affected by the volcano, said Undersecretary Arturo Boncato Jr.

Tourists flock to Tagaytay for the cool weather and Instagram-worthy views of Taal Lake, which holds the volcano. It is also easily accessible from the capital, at just a 2-hour drive.

In the first 3 months of 2019 alone, Tagaytay had 6.9 million visitors who stayed overnight, compared to 7.5 million in the entire 2018. Last year, there were 6.3 million day visitors, Boncato said.

Calabarzon, composed of Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon, also host tourists looking for adventure and beaches, he said.

"Its contribution to Philippine tourism, regardless of number, is important," he said.

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With a "hazardous" eruption still possible, Boncato said tourism in Calabarzon would take a back seat to disaster response, he said.

"After they're all out of harm's way, the DOT will come in to assess and then map out a strategic program to bring them back to their feet," he said.

The Philippines welcomed its 8 millionth tourist last Dec. 27, Boncato said. Full year data was not immediately available but the full year target was set at 8.2 million.

The target for 2020 is 9.2 million and as many as 12 million by 2022, he said.