Fast Rising Tourist Spots in the Philippines 2

CNN cites 3 Philippine beaches

Cable News Channel (CNN) has included three Philippine beaches on its list of the best 100 beaches in the world.  The Atlanta-based CNN said Puka Beach in Boracay, El Nido in Palawan, and Palaui Island in Cagayan are among the best destinations for beachgoers around the globe. It listed Palaui at No. 10, the only Southeast Asian beach in the Top 10.

“Glorious white sands meet volcanic rocks and blue-green waters topside, while coral gardens and a rich marine reserve meet divers under the surface. Palaui is all about raw beauty,” CNN said of the island off the northeastern tip of Luzon.

“Treks to get there require battling thorny grass, muddy ground and a mangrove forest…. With no resorts or hotels, Palaui has only two real options: camping under the stars or home stays,” it added.

El Nido landed on No. 14 while Boracay island;s Puka Beach made it to No. 84.  “Puka is the second-longest beach on Boracay and relatively empty most times, with no resorts and a limited number of restaurants,” it said.

75,000 tourists visit Cagayan Freeport

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.

Blessida Diwa, the regional director of Tourism Department in Region II, recognized the marvelous landscape and seascape of the Cagayan Freeport and supported the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority’s efforts to promote the area.

The beauty of the place has been further validated by CEZA administrator and chief executive Jose Mari Ponce who 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.

The transformation of this area to being an economically viable investment destination with world-class facilities and a tourism haven can be attributed to CEZA’s efforts. “Before we came into the picture, the municipality of Santa Ana was a fifth-class agricultural and fishing town with little in the way of development, with mere couple hundred of tourist arrivals per year and very limited employment opportunities. Today, it has been upgraded to a second-class municipality and soon to be first class municipality, with 18 hotel resorts, a growing commercial and entrepreneurial sector, and with a very promising tourism industry,” Ponce said in his speech during the 17th Lakbay Pilipinas event organized by the Philippine Travel Agencies Association held recently at Sofitel Philippine Plaza.

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.

CEZA has earned the credence of various agencies, including DOT and PTAA, with its significant contributions that posted positive performance in terms of investment, tourism and economic growth of the region. PTAA president John Paul Cabalza confirmed that it is in the same recognition that Ponce was invited by PTAA as a guest of honor and speaker during the 17th Lakbay Pilipinas event.

CEZA has embarked on aggressive marketing and promotions campaign in the Philippines and abroad, joining several conferences and travel expos to showcase the beauty and potential of the jurisdiction.

“We have also officially committed to the PTAA by becoming a registered member in order to tap PTAA’s experience in tourism development and its wide network of tour agencies and operators,” Ponce said.

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 Resortin 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.

“Two more leisure resort complexes are set to be constructed. We were also able to convince local entrepreneurs to invest in hotels and accommodations in Santa Ana.  An additional 200 rooms have been made available by the new hotels and resorts and this brings the total number of rooms in the Zone to around 800,” he said.

The increased awareness of the Cagayan Freeport as a great tourism destination is claimed by Ponce to be a result of CEZA’s intensive and continuous promotion of the Cagayan Freeport, “Interests are being manifested not only by tourists but business investors as well. The Cagayan Freeport’s attractions such as Palaui Island are now trending,” he said.

Ponce, however, said CEZA’s ultimate goal is not to be a mere trending destination. “Our goal is to be a major leisure and business destination in a global setting, to be a mainstay in the tourism industry that offers a unique experience for all visitors.”

11 coolest towns in the Philippines

CNN Travel has identified the 11 coolest towns in the Philippines. These are Baguio City, Tagaytay, Sagada (Mountain Province), Don Salvador Benedicto (Negros), Canlaon City (Negros), Davao City, Lantapan (Bukidnon), Marawi (Mindanao), Banaue (Mountain Province), Lake Sebu (Mindanao) and Itbayat (Batanes).

Survivor shoots in Palaui

International reality TV game show Survivor is shooting its 27th season in one of the country’s most pristine islands in northeast Cagayan province, showcasing the beauty of the Philippines to a multinational audience for the third straight season, according to a report by Manila Standard Today.

This time, the setting of the world-famous show will be the 7,145-hectare Palaui Island, a national marine reserve at the Babuyan Channel were at least 21 commercial species of fish thrive in 50 hectares of undisturbed coral.

Aside from its unique land and sea scenery, Palaui is also the home of the historic Cape Engaño.

The Survivor TV series, the American version produced by Mark Burnett and hosted by Jeff Probst, is shooting its 27th season in Palaui, Cagayan, and in Anguib, Pozo Robo and Gotan, all parts of the Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Freeport in Sta. Ana, Cagayan, Rabanal said.

It will be the show’s third straight filming in the Philippines after the 25th and 26th seasons were shot in Caramoan Island in Camarines Sur.

Puerto Galera as retirement hub

Puerto Galera Mayor Hubert Dolor has disclosed his plan to build an airport and a retirement haven in the resort town, according to a report by Manila Standard Today.

“We’ve noted a marked increase in arrivals of foreign and local tourists between 2010 and early months of 2013, the main reason why we need more facilities, services and other improvements,” he said.

Mayor Dolor said funds are being drawn up for a retirement village and an airport in the coastal barangays of Dulangan and Villaflor; the construction of a PhP240-million, six-kilometre Puerto Galera coastal and mountain road linking the resort town to Abra de Ilog municipality, in Occidental Mindoro; and the upgrading of the primary seaports in barangays Balatero, Sabang and Minolo for fastcraft, water taxis and ro-ros.

He said a Paris-based environmental club recognised Puerto Galera as one of the most beautiful bays in the world.  As an environmentally-planned locality, the town is also building a 48-megawatt wind farm in barangay Baclayan.

Dapitan as first heritage zone

Dapitan City in Zamboanga del Norte, the place where national hero Jose P. Rizal spent four years in exile before his martyrdom in December 1898 at Bagumbayan field (now Luneta), has been recently declared a heritage zone, according to a report by BusinessMirror.  Dapitan is the first heritage zone declared by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP).

Dapitan City Vice Mayor Patri Bajamunde-Chan said the Dapitan’s new status is expected to boost tourism in the community as well as promote awareness of the significant role in the life of the national hero who was born in Calamba, Laguna.

As a heritage zone, the city will be entitled to government funding and other necessary support for the upkeep of its landmarks and heritage sites.

‘Green City’ rising in Clark

The Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) is preparing to launch before the year ends a US$5-billion development project that will transform a sizeable chunk of the Clark reservation into a fully automated, state-of-the-art metropolis to be known as “Green City”, according to a report by Philippine Star.

BCDA president and CEO Arnel Paciano Casanova said Green City will have all the amenities of a modern city where all services are fully automated.  The entire area will cover 35,000 hectares which is a little more than half of Metro Manila’s 63,000 hectares. Within the area is an urban core that will occupy around 8,800 hectares.

Mr. Casanova said the planned development will consist of five nodes: government centre, central business district, academic centre, agro-industrial area and eco-tourism and wellness area.

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