Seizing the opportunity to showcase its resiliency and stunning attractions, Albay has launched what is touted to be the first province-wide digital tourism campaign in the Philippines.
Against the backdrop of the afternoon sun casting a pale light over the majestic Mayon Volcano, top local officials led by Albay governor Joey Salceda joined executives from partners Smart Communications and start-up InnoPub in launching the initiative on Friday, April 10, at the centuries-old Daraga Church near Legazpi City.
While Smart and InnoPub have already launched similar digital tourism projects in some cities and municipalities across the country, Albay has the distinction of being the first to implement the program across the whole province.
The centerpiece of the initiative is a mobile app, dubbed Albay Guide, which seeks to serve as a handy guide to tourists. The travel app can be downloaded on iOS, Android, and Windows phones and other mobile devices.
The app lists such Albay destinations as the Cagsawa Ruins, Lidong National Park, Mayon Skyline and Mayon Resthouse, Misibis Bay Resort, Lignon Hill Nature Park, Vera Falls, Kawa-Kawa Hill, Embarcadero de Legazpi, and Danao Lake and provides information useful to visitors, such as detailed instructions on getting to the sites and the many activities they can do when they arrive.
The free Albay Guide app is also complemented by digital markers located in the top attractions in the province. The markers contain quick response or QR codes and near-field communications or NFC stickers that, when scanned or tapped with a compatible device, trigger the download of more information about a site or structure.
?Albay is one of the most beautiful provinces in the Philippines. It has been cited by international tour organizations as the best destination in Southeast Asia,? said Salceda.
With the rollout of the campaign, Salceda said he hopes to jack up by 5,000 the number of tourists coming to the province, noting that Albay has 7.1-percent share of foreign tourists and expanding number of domestic visitors.
?Digital Tourism will boost our product positioning and brand franchising of unique iconic features like Mayon Volcano and Cagsawa Ruins and such unforgettable engagements as the Mayon ATV. It will also fortify our positioning as ecotourism, cultural, and culinary destinations,? Salceda also said.
Also provided in the mobile app are details on travel to Abay?s ancient churches and other heritage monuments, the best places to sample local fares like Bicol Express, pinangat, and sili ice cream, the best pasalubong and where to buy them, hotels and accommodations, as well the top things to do in the province.
?Mobile plays a key role in travel. A study by Google and Ipsos MediaCT showed phones are used throughout the travel process — from getting travel inspiration to planning, booking, experiencing and even post traveling — with 67 percent of leisure travelers and 78 percent of business travelers using smartphones,? said InnoPub co-founder Marlen Limpag.
?Our phones do not just keep us connected during our trips, they are our cameras, boarding passes, portable media players and, in our Digital Tourism program, travel guides.?
“We?re excited to have this opportunity to bring our digital tourism program to Albay in collaboration with our partners. The province has been a long time partner for various initiatives like disaster preparedness. Aside from enriching people’s travel experiences, digital tourism also opens up opportunities for local communities and businesses,” said Ramon R. Isberto, Smart public affairs group head.
Smart?s digital tourism program is a nationwide initiative that harnesses technology to deliver tourism, cultural and historical information.
Through the collaboration with Cebu-based InnoPub Media, the project has been rolled out in Cebu, Iloilo, and Baguio City. It was given an Anvil Award of Merit in February 2014.