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The transformation of the Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Freeport into a vibrant, self-sustaining and fast-rising economic and tourism hub in the North has brought a steady increase in tourist arrivals over the past several years, from a mere 2,000 in 2006 to over 75,000 in 2012.
Department of Tourism (DOT)Regional Director for Region 2 Blessida Diwa cited the marvellous landscape and seascape of the Cagayan Freeport.
Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA) Administrator and CEO Jose Mari Ponce said the place is blessed with unique, unspoiled natural wonders, including pristine white sand beaches, virgin forests, a protected marine landscape and seascape in Palaui Island, ecologically rich and diverse mangrove areas, bountiful flora and fauna, a dolphin and whale habitat, and even a century-old Spanish lighthouse overlooking an enchanting and hidden cove.
CEZA is a government-owned and -controlled corporation tasked with managing and developing the 54,000-hectare Cagayan Freeport. Cagayan Freeport covers the entire town of Santa Ana in Cagayan province as well as the islands of Fuga, Barit and Mabbag in the town of Aparri.
Palaui Island, a CSEZFP tourist destination, was named as one of the top ten beaches and islands in the world by CNN Go in 2012. Recently, the island made it as number 10 in the list of CNN’s best 100 beaches in world, placing even higher than El Nido in Palawan (14th) and Puka Beach in Boracay (84th).
The natural beauty of the place has also drawn the attention of reality television series Survivor USA, which is currently filming two seasons of the TV show in Palaui Island, and in several other locations in the Freeport.
The CSEZFP currently has two big foreign companies that invested in leisure resort complexes, namely the Cagayan Holiday Resort in the San Vicente Naval Operating Base and the Eastern Hawaii Leisure Resort in the CEZA complex. Both leisure resort complexes operate online gaming proxy betting operations, and have a combined occupancy of more than 600 VIP rooms, with luxury villas, KTVs, watersports facilities, spas and restaurants.