Camiguin Island in Northern Mindanao has been included among the top major tourist destinations in the country today after the island saw a major increase in the number of foreign and local tourists from January to March this year, the region’s tourism office reported Thursday.

Data gathered from the Department of Tourism (DoT) in Northern Mindanao showed that at least 45,233 domestic and foreign tourists visited Camiguin Island for the first quarter of 2010, which is 21 percent higher than the 37,766 tourist arrivals for the same period last year.

Of the number, 43,298 tourists were domestic or from different areas in the country while 1,935 tourists were foreigners.

“We expect the figure to go even higher by the end of the year,” said Northern Mindanao DoT Regional Director Catalino Chan.

Camiguin owes its unique beauty to its varied terrain, pristine natural environment and rustic setting, he said.

The region’s tourism official said Camiguin is one of the Philippines’s most beautiful islands, calling it a “virtual paradise.”

He said the island allows visitors to experience a sample of untouched beauty in its entirety as they are “locked in the eternal embrace of the sea.”

Camiguin Island is also known as an island “borne of fire,” with its seven volcanoes and several volcanic domes, he said.

The island of Camiguin is perhaps unmatched anywhere else in Southeast Asia, Chan said. “The island stirs the imagination and baffles the mind,” he said.

Camiguin boasts of kilometers of untouched coastlines marked by coconut trees and dotted with hot  and cold springs, he said.

He said fine beaches offer sun-filled days of relaxation and clear blue water. “Enchanting marine life and coral reefs beckon diving enthusiasts from all over the world,” he said.

“You can also discover and explore unknown trails and caves, delight in the spray of majestic waterfalls, or simply be taken in by the panorama of fields and seas when you reach this beautiful island,” Chan said.

by Mike Crismundo of Manila Bulletin; flicker photo by sweetcaroline

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