Subic remains top tourist magnet in Central Luzon

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT—With its accessibility, clean natural environment and effective health safety protocols, the Subic Bay Freeport Zone has remained the biggest tourism attraction in Central Luzon, continuing to draw millions of visitors despite the lingering Covid-19 pandemic.

Jem Camba, tourism manager of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA), said Subic has earned top ranking in Region 3 from the Department of Tourism (DOT) with 7,374,332 visitors and 737,486 tourists in 2021.

It also placed fifth among top tourism performers ranked by the DOT in the country last year, Camba added.

Camba said a combination of health and safety attributes gave Subic an edge over tourist destinations close to Metro Manila.

She pointed out that the SBMA Tourism Department has managed to organize events that drew in a lot of visitors because of an atmosphere of safety in Subic.

“We have established and followed strict health and safety protocols set by the national government since the pandemic broke out because we had to ensure the safety of guests entering the Subic Bay Freeport Zone,” Camba explained.

She said that during the second year of the pandemic, Subic Bay continued to thrive via digital marketing, with online business-to-business meetings and travel fairs, as well as QR codes for easy access of information on Subic tourism and local health and safety guidelines.

Safety considerations under the pandemic also led to the staging of “bubble events” here like the basketball and beach volleyball tournaments, and for “locked-in tapings” for film shoots.

Camba said that the SBMA saw to it that hotels and other tourism-related businesses complied with health and safety standards with weekly inspections, and that workers of tourism-related establishments were fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

For this year, Camba said Subic has hosted various sports tourism events that also spiked visitor arrival. These included the 2022 Subic Bay International Triathlon, Audax Ride, FRIKE Mountain Bike Fun Race, and the first round of the 2022 Rally Sprint Series

Future event bookings in Subic include the EZ Mil Panalo Homecoming Tour, Gold’s Gym Muscle Contest, Pickleball National Tournament, Subic Bay Ironkids, Subic Bay 5150, and the continuation of the 2022 Rally Sprint Series.

Camba added that the SBMA will resume hosting cruise ships by next year, as tour companies like the Royal Caribbean have already confirmed their arrival for 2023.