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There’s no doubt that the Philippines is a top tourist destination, turning heads from different parts of the world. Once again, the country is thrown into the international spotlight with the recent recognition from a popular online travel company based in the United States.
Luzon ranked second in the World’s Trending Destination category of TripAdvisor’s 2020 Travellers’ Choice Awards, Manila Bulletin reported. According to the largest travel platform, the biggest island in the Philippines continues to attract tourists not only because of its “dynamic capital” Manila, but more so because “it’s home to some of the most exquisite natural landscapes and biodiversity on the planet,” particularly mentioning Luzon’s broad mountains, lush rainforests, beautiful beaches, and coral reefs.
TripAdvisor encouraged visiting over 2,000 places in Luzon. At the top of the list are the National Museum, Mt. Pulag National Park, and Fort Santiago.
Aside from Luzon, Cebu likewise made it to the list of trending destinations, in 24th place. The online travel company highlighted the “cosmopolitan metropolis of the city, white-sand beaches of Mactan, electric-blue waters of Kawasan Falls, and whale sharks of Oslob” as the biggest come-ons for tourists. They labeled Casa Gorordo Museum, Tumalog Falls, and Sugbo Mercado as top Cebu destinations.
TripAdvisor’s rankings are based on traveler reviews submitted last year. Considering the full list, Kochi in India ranked first. Porto in Portugal, Porto Seguro in Brazil, and Gramado in Brazil placed third, fourth, and fifth positions respectively.
A Snapshot of Luzon’s Booming Tourism
The northern island of the country is no stranger to being recognized for its breathtaking attractions. Last year, four places in North Luzon received the official label of “tourist destinations,” as President Duterte signed laws for their designation.
According to Business World, this includes Mount Bulaylay in Cuyapo, Nueva Ecija (Republic Act 11406) and Candon City Ecotourism Zone in Ilocos Sur (RA 11407). RA 11408 officiates Santiago Cove in Santiago, Ilocos Sur, and then Pinsal Falls in Santa Maria, Ilocos Sur from RA 11409. With these areas marked as tourist destinations, the Department of Tourism (DOT) will be prioritizing them in terms of development.
Part of the agency’s task is to create a plan for the construction and maintenance of infrastructure and facilities that would spur tourism activities in the area within a year. They are also mandated to preserve and conserve heritage sites and natural wonders.
Meanwhile, in Central Luzon, Subic remains to be the top destination, according to the latest statistics cited in this Philippine News Agency (PNA) report. The number of visitors registered at 1.7 million in 2018, accounting for almost half (41.73 percent) of the total tourist arrivals in the region. December saw the most number of guests coming in, with over 180,000 people recorded.
According to Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA), Subic is complete with every destination tourists need: nature-themed parks, hotels and resorts, and malls. Tourists can also reach it via several channels, by land, sea, or air.
South Luzon is equally a destination worth discovering. In fact, the DOT shone a spotlight on this region last year, as Manila Bulletin reported. The tourism office urged locals and foreigners to explore the provinces’ natural landscapes, historical areas, and pilgrimage sites.
Overview of Cebu’s Vibrant Tourism
Meanwhile, the Queen City of the South managed to sustain an excellent number of tourist arrivals. In 2019, the Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA) welcomed over 12 million passengers, an 11 percent increase from the recorded 11.38 million in 2018, according to Sunstar. Statistics on both domestic and international passengers grew significantly, with the former up by 14 percent and the latter increasing 10 percent.
According to DOT, Cebu is the second most preferred destination in the country by foreign tourists. As mentioned by Cebu Daily News, over three million foreigners arrived for the first 11 months of 2019. South Korea is the top source of international tourists, followed by China, and then the United States.
Cebu’s aviation hub in itself is already a sight to behold for tourists. Stepping inside, visitors would instantly feel a resort-like atmosphere, as the entire space is filled with timber arches that appear to be an inverted boat hull. Looking up, the roof has wave-like patterns. With the design paying homage to Cebu’s beautiful islands, MCIA received recognition from the 2019 World Architecture Festival (WAF).
As the Build, Build, Build program continues in the Queen City of the South, giving way to big infrastructures such as the Metro Cebu Expressway, 4th Cebu-Mactan Bridge, and Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), Cebu is poised to become stronger in its tourism activities.
Sources: Manila Bulletin, Business World, PNA, Sunstar, Cebu Daily News
Photo by Cameron Armstrong on Unsplash