SANTA ANA, Cagayan: After eight years of operation, the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA) has become the top economic driver in Cagayan Valley, a feat that comes from the establishment of tourism-related projects.
In his report, CEZA Administrator Jose Mari Ponce said that tourist influx has grown from only 4,604 in 2007 to 127,333 in 2013 owing the growth to a vigorous tourism campaign that included a state-of-the-art Cyber Park for electronic gaming, which is the first and only e-gaming facility in Asia.
“Very soon, the Cyber Park is going to be one of the top 10 best in the world,” Ponce said.
Smaller private operators have also mushroomed in the hotel and restaurant industry, contributing greatly to the development of the economic zone.
Cagayan’s tourism industry boomed after a massive promotions campaign for its beautiful islands and white sand beaches.
“The Palaui Island here, for example, was recognized as among the 100 best islands in the world and top three best islands in the Philippines by CNN Travel Blog,” Ponce claimed, adding that the recent shooting of the Survivor America in the island led to a steady tourist arrival.
He also said that CEZA aims to make the region the game fishing capital of the country.
Ponce expects the arrivals to continue growing with the projected operation of the Cagayan North International Airport in Lallo town next year.
To further develop Cagayan’s tourism potential, Ponce said that CEZA is looking into Santa Ana town, and the islands of Fuga, Barit and Mabbag in Aparri town as among the places that could be devoted to tourism. The two sites has an area of 54,118 hectares and are covered under the CEZA charter.