More international tourists are coming to the Philippines to watch the on-going eruption of Mayon Volcano in the province of Albay in the Bicol region, around 400 kilometers south of Manila.
Due to the sudden influx of local and foreign tourists who want to witness the erupting volcano as it spews molten lava up into the air, the limited number of hotels in the city have been experiencing shortage of rooms during the past few days.
Hotel Venezia, one of the better hotels in the city has been fully booked until Tuesday. Other smaller hotels and lodging houses are likewise registering higher occupancy rates.
Local authorities say that most of the visitors are looking for a place around the volcano with unobstructed view of Mount Mayon.
Digvijay Ankoti, 29, came all way from India just to see the eruption. He drove from Manila to Legazpi with two other Indian friends, one of them married to a Filipino.
It was Ankoti’s first time to see a volcano on the brink of a possibly hazardous blast.
He and his companions have gone lava-watching, going to the top of Ligñon Hill, which offers a full view of the volcano when the sky is clear. The hilltop also offers a 360-degree view of this city and neighboring Daraga town.
While tourists are drawn to Legaspi City to witness the cascading lava flows which offers a specular sight especially during night time, the provincial government of Albay says it is not encouraging disaster tourism. The unusual arrival of foreign tourists in the city was unintended consequence of eruption of the world's near-perfect cone volcano.
The erupting volcano is currently on alert level no.4 which means that hazardous eruption is eminent according to the Philippine Institute of Volcanolgy and Seismology (Phivocs).
Some 47,000 people have thus far been evacuated to safer grounds since the alert level was raised by Phivocs officials in the area.
There has been a lull in the activity of the volcano in the last 48 hours but Phivocs officials warned
evacuees not to go back to their homes as the volcano may just be in the verge of hazardous eruption.
"Do not become complacent. The people only see what is coming out of the crater and that is often cloud covered. It is not just the observed phenomenon that matters. We also look at the quakes, the gas emitted and the swelling of the volcano," said chief volcanologist Renato Solidum.
"We are telling the people, 'do not just count the number of quakes or what you see from the crater.' It may look calm but it is not calm. It can still explode," he warned in a radio broadcast.
"You might think it is taking a break but the volcano is still swelling," he said after the restive volcano emitted fewer ash emissions on Sunday than in previous days