Fast Rising Tourist Spots in the Philippines 1

Major diving destination

The Philippines has been recognised as among the world’s top destinations for diving in this year’s Top 100 Readers Choice Awards by Scuba Diving Magazine, which is “based on opinions of thousands of divers from across the globe.”

The Philippines, which is part of the Pacific and Indian Ocean region, was named Best Value of Diving Dollar by the magazine, surpassing four other destinations: Palau, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand.

It ranked second to Indonesia in Best Macro Diving, followed by Papua New Guinea, Palau and Malaysia; and fourth in Best Underwater Photography, which was won by Fiji.

In the “Best Overall Diving” category, the Philippines landed in third place, beating Maldives and the Great Barrier Reef. Topping this list is Palau, followed by Indonesia.

Skyjet promotes ecotourism sites

Skyjet Airlines, the country’s newest full-service budget-but-full-service airline, has signed an agreement with ABS-CBN Foundation Inc. (AFI) to jointly promote eco-tourism sites in the Philippines, according to a report by Philippine Star.

Skyjet president and CEO Joel Mendoza said the memorandum of agreement (MOA) with AFI would enable them to fly “high-end” tourists to other interesting tourism destinations starting September this year.

“We will be able to introduce Tablas in Romblon as another alternative tourism route to tourists. There are other areas in the country where we need to promote as a tourism destination. Skyjet and ABS-CBN Foundation are one in this goal to bring tourism in untapped areas of the country and improve the lives of the communities there,” he said.

Mr. Mendoza said the 100-percent Filipino-owned airline company would want to share this “advocacy” with AFI’s Bantay Kalikasan. In fact, he said they plan to beef up the airline’s fleet from only two to five in the next three to five years.

Travel agents push new tourism sites

Members of the Philippine Travel Agencies Association (PTAA) are promoting emerging tourist destinations to meet target growth rates and make income opportunities more widespread, according to a report by Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Some 5.5 million foreign tourists and 35 million domestic tourists are expected to travel nationwide this year. Boracay, Cebu, Bohol, Davao and Puerto Princesa are among their top picks.

Mr. John Paul Cabalza, president of the Philippine Travel Agencies Association (PTAA), said that among the “emerging destinations” are Palaui Island in the Cagayan Economic Zone, Baler in Aurora province, Samal Island in Davao City and Danao in Bohol. Baler hosts 15 resorts while Ceza has 17 hotel-resort locators.

Promoting new destinations would ease the pressure on mainstream sites and also distribute income opportunities toward the countryside, Assistant Tourism Secretary and spokesperson Benito Bengzon Jr. said.

Part of efforts to promote new destinations is to hold events such as the upcoming 20th Travel Tour Expo 2013, which took place from 15th to 17th February 2013 at the SMX Convention Centre in Pasay City.

Cebu most affordable for retirement

Cebu City has been ranked as one of the six most affordable cities in the world where expatriates can retire and live in.  In its first annual retirement overseas index, Live and Invest Overseas has named the world's top retirement havens, including Cebu City and 21 other cities.

Live and Invest Overseas, a project started by Ms. Kathleen Peddicord, and now considered the world's foremost authority on overseas retirement, said the most affordable places to retire comfortably on a budget of $1,250 per month or even less are Cebu, Philippines; Chiang Mai, Thailand; Cuenca, Ecuador; Granada, Nicaragua; Hoi An, Vietnam; and Medellin, Colombia.

Cebu was also included in the list of eight best places for affordable healthcare, alongside Chiang Mai, Thailand; Cuenca, Ecuador; Georgetown, Malaysia; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Languedoc, France; Medellin, Colombia; and Panama City Beaches.

The ranking was based on 12 categories that include cost of living, climate, English spoken, entertainment, environmental conditions, existing expat community, health care, infrastructure, real estate, residency options, safety and taxes.

Live and Invest Overseas said it included Cebu in the top list because “Cebu is a popular choice among expats.”

“It [Cebu] doesn’t have all the amenities and services of Manila, but it is a reasonably comfortable place to be, with much of what an expat might hope to find in a new home away from home,” she said.

Cebu city offers amenities that can’t be found in the smaller towns and villages, and there are several colleges and universities in Cebu offering courses in English, it added.

Boracay is best Asian beach

Boracay topped the list of best Asian beaches prepared by TripAdvisor.com and travel magazine Lonely Planet, according to a report by Manila Bulletin.

Boracay topped the list of TripAdvisor’s Travelers’ Choice 2013 – Best Beaches in Asia 2013 – holding on to this crown for the third year in a row.  TripAdvisor, one of the world’s popular online travel guides, conducts regular polls of favourite vacation places and properties through its Travelers’ Choice Awards.

Boracay’s world renowned White Beach was described as “a stunningly beautiful white powder sand beach (with) crystal clear, warm water that you can laze on for days on end.”

Boracay has consistently made it to the poll results of the travel Web site, the previous one as second in the 2012 Best Beaches in the World Awards.

In 2012, Boracay was also cited by Travel + Leisure Magazine in its World’s Best Awards as the Best Island Destination, and one of the Top 10 Best Beach Party Destinations by Cheapflights.com.

Siargao among top surfing sites

New York Times named Siargao Island as among the world’s top surfing sites.  The NYT’s travel website mentioned Dedon Island Resort in Siargao as “one of the world’s best surf breaks, Cloud 9 and has an outdoor cinema along with spa and paddle board classes.”

Dedon Island Resort was the former Pansukian Resort, a well known establishment catering to high-end clients mostly European tourists.

The Department of Tourism (DoT-Caraga Region 13) said that among the prestigious news networks which recently cited Siargao Island as a destination to watch were Travel + Leisure based in Hong Kong, CNNGo of Cable News Network and Conde Nast Traveller based in United Kingdom.

It said Siargao Island is often described as a spot of “idyllic white sand beaches, secluded little-known surf towns, and pristine reefs are among the natural draws of this country made up of over 7,000 tropical islands.”

Intramuros development

Intramuros Administration chief Jose Capistrano Jr. said a masterplan for the walled city has been finished, but phase 2 of the masterplan is now being prepared.

Among the projects that are being developed are the establishment of a boutique hotel, fine dining restaurant, a theme park replicating the Old Intramuros, integrated parking and the Maestranza Park, which will be open to the public.

He said the long-term plan, which should be implemented by 2016, is the establishment of a row of cafes, shops and restaurants similar to Clark Quay in Singapore.

He also noted that the Department of Tourism is implementing programmes for the restoration and conversion of 27 lighthouses in different parts of the country for “bed and breakfast” inns, similar to the Paradores chain of hotels in Spain.

Spain Tourism Attache Angela Castaño said Paradores are old structures like historical buildings, castles and chateaus developed and refurbished as hotels with modern services, the first of which was established in 1928. There are currently 98 Paradores operating in Spain.

El Nido Resorts recognised globally

More opportunities for Philippine tourism in the global market are likely to open up following the inclusion of El Nido Resorts, the cluster of eco-resorts in Palawan, as one of 12 finalists worldwide in the 2013 Tourism for Tomorrow Awards (TTA), one of the most prestigious and highest accolades in the global travel and tourism industry, according to a report by Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Besting 133 other applications from destinations and businesses from more than 46 countries on six continents, the four eco-resorts in the municipalities of El Nido and Taytay that carry the El Nido brand was nominated for the Community Benefit Award. It is one of only three finalists in this category.

One of El Nido Resorts’ four destinations, Pangulasian Island, was also recently named by Conde Nast Traveller, Travel+Leisure, and The New York Times as one of the must-visit destinations in 2013 indicating keener interest in the Philippines following its economic upsurge.

The municipality of El Nido is a small archipelago of 45 islands. In 1981, Ten Knots Development Corp. established Miniloc Island Resort within the archipelago. A second resort with 51 rooms was constructed in 1998 in Lagen Island, while the third was opened in 2010 on Apulit island, which is in the municipality of Taytay, and has 50 rooms. The fourth resort with 42 villas on Pangulasian Island opened its doors a few weeks ago.

Mount Hamiguitan, a heritage site

Mount Hamiguitan Mountain Range Wildlife Sanctuary in Davao Oriental is being considered for inscription as a World Heritage natural site next year, according to a report by Interaksyon.com.

The Philippines made the nomination for the mountain range’s “high number of unique, endemic and globally threatened species of flora and fauna.….Studies have shown that the mountain range is home to a total of 1,380 species of flora and fauna with 341 species endemic to the Philippines, including that of the critically endangered Philippine eagle and the Philippine cockatoo as well as the Shorea polysperma, S. astylosa and the orchid Paphiopedilum adductum, just to name a few,” the Department of Foreign Affairs said.

After deliberations during the ongoing 37th Session of the World Heritage Committee being held in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, the Philippines was requested to formally submit information related to land claims and the expanded boundaries of the property.

If it is inscribed, Mount Hamiguitan will join the five other World Heritage sites in the Philippines: Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park, Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, Rice Terraces of the Cordilleras, Historic Town of Vigan, and Baroque Churches of the Philippines.

The Philippines is one of the 190 State Parties to the 1972 World Heritage Convention. The country is currently an observer in the World Heritage Committee, which is tasked with the implementation of the Convention. 

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