By Nestor L. Abrematea
Catarman, Northern Samar – With Boracay in Aklan shutting down for six months, the province is trying to draw tourists to its natural attractions which include white and pink sand beaches and rock formations.
Northern Samar Governor Jose L. Ong Jr. said the provincial government is preparing for the influx of visitors to the province once Boracay island closes.
Ong said the provincial government plans to open public transport from the airport directly to the tourist destinations.
He said he is also inviting airlines to divert flights to Northern Samar once Boracay closes.
Ong encouraged airlines to open Manila-to-Catarman routes. At present only Philippine Airlines has daily flights from Clark to Catarman.
Ong said tourists must explore the pink beach in San Vicente Island, and the white beaches in San Antonio, Lavezares, San Jose, Laoang, and Lapinig.
There are also the famous rock formations in Biri island, the Unay beach in Laoang and Canawayon island in Lapinig and the Pinipisakan Falls in Las Navas town, he said.
The caves and the blue lagoon in Mapanas town are also attracting more tourists, Ong said.
New hotels are being opened in the islands, but they must strictly comply with environmental laws, he said.
San Jose, Northern Samar Mayor Clarence E. Dato said four islands in the town are being tapped as tourist destinations because of their fine sand beaches.
Dato identified the islands as Pangilala, Matungko, Cabaungan Grande and Tanddang.
Biri Mayor Antonio de los Santos Jr. is confident the town’s rock formations can lure both both local and foreign visitors.
Last year more than 10,000 tourists visited the natural wonder.
De los Santos said a new luxury hotel is opening near the rock formations.
Biri is 45 minutes by pumpboat from Lavazares town.
The old Catholic churches in Capul island and Palapag town and the Catarman Cathedral are also favorite destinations for pilgrims.