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14 April 2009

Subic records all-time high in Holy Week tourist arrivals

More tourists and visitors have chosen to spend the Holy Week here in the Subic Bay Freeport this year, resulting in record-breaking increases in both the number of tourist arrivals and hotel occupancy rates posted from April 5 to 10.

SBMA administrator Armand Arreza said that based on the vehicle count of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA), a 74 percent increase in visitor arrivals was recorded here during the recent Holy week, when a total of 43,984 vehicles were monitored to have entered the Freeport through the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEx), compared to only 25,300 in the same period last year.

“Using the standard multiplier of four persons per vehicle, this year’s vehicle tally translates to a total of 175,936 persons — a significant number of tourist arrivals to be recorded in a week’s time,” Arreza said.

On the other hand, hotel occupancy rates in Subic also jumped to an unprecedented level as 20 hotels and housing operators out of the 32 existing establishments in Subic reported 99.5 percent occupan
cy, Arreza also said.

The occupancy figure recorded in the same period last year was only 84 percent, he added.

The growth in Holy Week tourist arrivals, SBMA officials said, mirrors the growing popularity of Subic as tourist destination, especially in summer when schools close for a two-month break.

In February, tourist arrivals here reached a total of 124,503 and represented a 198 percent increase over the 41,815 total recorded in January.

In March, Arre
za said that SBMA-operated facilities alone have recorded 25,957 visitors — a figure that excluded the arrivals recorded at hotels and private facilities wherein the bulk of Subic tourists register.

Arreza attributed the growing tourist traffic here during the Holy Week to Subic’s accessibility via the SCTEx, as well as Subic’s increasing popularity as a holiday haven that offers a wide range of natural and man-made attractions.

“Of course, Subic also has the reputation of having retained the best in Filipino culture, like the Lenten “pabasa” and “salubong” rites that attract a huge number of visitors,” Arr
eza pointed out.

SBMA deputy administrator for tourism Raul Marcelo said that among the Lenten traditions that attracted a huge audience in the weeklong Holy Week program here include the re-enactment of Jesus Christ’s triumphant entry to Jerusalem, a ceremony celebrated by Filipino Catholics as Palm Sunday; the “pabasa” chanting, which revolved around the life, passion and death of Jesus; and the grand procession and 14 Stations of the Cross.

Aside from these, Subic visitors were also treated to more contemporary Lenten events like the “Heal Me Lord” musical concert held at the Boardwalk Area on Good Friday. The religious musical featur
ed singers and stage actors like Karylle, Christian Bautista, Ricky Davao, Iza Calzado, Jacky Lou Blanco, Kyla, and Yvette Ocampo, among others. (SBMA Corporate Communications)

PHOTO: A religious procession ambles past Subic’s iconic Spanish Gate as part of the Good Friday celebration at the Subic Bay Freeport. The weeklong Lenten program in Subic attracted at least 175,000 visitors, SBMA officials said.

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