Palawan is the World’s Best Island Again

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It’s official: Palawan is yet again the world’s best island, according to popular travel magazine Travel + Leisure. The attraction claimed the first spot twice in the past, in 2013 and 2017.

The publication described Palawan as “dramatic at sea level, with mountains rising directly from the ocean palm-edged beaches.” It went on saying that visitors can enjoy historical tours and nature adventures, as they “dive in World War II wrecks, explore old-growth rain forests, and paddle one of the world’s longest subterranean rivers at Puerto Princesa.”

Sharing a comment from one fan, the writer Sara Clemence noted, “The landscape and scenery are just gorgeous.” It added, “It offers the most beautiful beaches, resorts, and scenery anywhere.”

Palawan received a score of 94.83. According to the magazine, the rating readers give is based on activities and sights, natural attractions and beaches, food, friendliness, and overall value

The tourist hotspot shares the prestigious list with other widely-known destinations in the world, including Mílos, Greece (3rd); Galápagos Islands, Ecuador (10th); Bali, Indonesia (17th); and Koh Samui, Thailand (23rd). It’s worth noting that the Philippines is one of the few countries that managed to squeeze in more than one attraction on the list. Aside from Palawan, Boracay made the cut, in the 14th place with an 88.22 rating.

Last month, Forbes hailed the Philippines as one of the “rising stars in the post-COVID world,” set to draw tourists in once the pandemic stabilizes. The prominent magazine likewise mentioned Palawan and Boracay in their citation, highlighting the white sand beaches of the islands.

A Win for Tourism

The tourism department celebrated the recognition in a Facebook post, with secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat pointing out that Palawan has taken back its “rightful place” in the list of World’s Best. She added that commendation is “all the more important,” since it came from actual readers of the publication.

Several netizens expressed delight over the good news, commenting on their own personal favorite attractions in Palawan, namely Coron, Puerto Princesa, El Nido, and Balabac, coupled with travel pictures. While most of the commenters shared that they’ve been to the island a couple of times already, others have expressed interest in visiting once the health crisis eases.

The social media post has over 16,000 likes and 11,000 shares, as of writing.

Gearing up for Reopening

The recognition from international organizations would prove very beneficial, as the government plans to reopen vacation destinations gradually. Palawan was put under the modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) on June 1, allowing tourism and leisure activities to resume at 50 percent capacity. Prior to the change in quarantine protocols, however, the province was already drawing up plans for reopening.

In the first week of July, the tourism chief went to the island to survey its preparedness to welcome visitors. With local authorities and tourism representatives, they discussed recovery plans in the area. One of the target initiatives is the dry run in El Nido. It will be a travel simulation, aimed at determining how many tourists should be on the island, how effective the health safety measures are, and how confident the tourists will be. 

Individuals interested in participating in the dry run are required to submit a negative result from a nearby testing center, according to Manila Bulletin. After the simulation in El Nido, San Vicente will implement the dry run.

Meanwhile, in Coron, the preparation involves having COVID-19 testing equipment in the locale.

As for individual tourism businesses, owners are strongly urged to observe safety protocols for guests and workers. Puyat reminded that enterprises need to secure Certificates of Authority to Operate from the tourism office before reopening.

Key to Tourism Revival

The government, along with industry experts, has long been zeroing in on province-to-province travels as the catalyst for revival in the tourism industry, Philstar reported. Since it will only be among areas where there are zero or few cases of COVID-19, the set-up promotes visitor safety, while sparking up tourism activities. 

Puyat pointed out that the country has lots of opportunities for rekindling domestic travels due to the sheer abundance of islands. This can spur discovering lesser-known destinations, which can eventually lead to local economies growing. 

Despite the slowdown in tourism and fiscal activities as a result of the pandemic, the Philippines is poised to recover.

Sources: Travel + Leisure, Department of Tourism, Manila Bulletin, Philstar

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