THE Department of Tourism (DOT) cheered the recent award of Palawan as the World’s Best Island in 2017 by the prestigious Travel + Leisure (T+L) magazine, the province’s second recognition in a row.
Also making it to the top 10 World’s Best Island list this year is Boracay (No. 3), a slight drop from last year’s No. 2 spot. Cebu, which was No. 6 on the list last year, failed to make it to the 2017 list.
Tourism Secretary Wanda Corazon T. Teo urged Palawan’s local leaders to protect the province, known as the Philippines’s “Last Frontier” for its virgin rain forest, unspoiled beaches and other natural wonders.
“We are truly proud of our country’s Last Frontier for the accolades gained and we enjoin the community, industry and local government leaders to continue preserving this valuable travel jewel for our future guardians and visitors to enjoy,” she said in a news statement.
These international accolades are seen boosting the promotional efforts of the DOT to attract more foreign visitors to the Philippines. The government agency recently reported a 14.4-percent increase in visitor arrivals in the first five months of 2017, reaching 2.88 million. (See, “Chinese, Taiwanese lift 5-month tourist arrivals,” in the BusinessMirror, July 9, 2017.)
“This record-breaking numbers, which began during the Miss Universe month, clearly indicate a bright outlook for Philippine tourism,” said Teo, who promised to help improve the tourism industry’s performance.
The DOT head also attributed the burgeoning visitor arrivals to the aggressive marketing efforts abroad and high-profile international events held in the country within the last 12 months, like the Madrid Fusión Manila, meetings of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the recent United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Conference on Tourism Statistics. “The DOT will continue to tap new and emerging markets, including little-known tourist destinations and sites, which are priority growth areas for tourism development,” Teo added.
She expressed confidence that the positive streak in visitor arrivals would likely continue throughout the rest of the year and break last year’s 5.9-million record. The DOT sees foreign visitor arrivals reaching some 7.5 million to 8 million in 2017, owing to the 1 million tourists committed by Beijing.
Meanwhile, T+L readers chose Palawan as the No. 1 island in Asia, then No. 1 worldwide, besting Santorini in Greece, Maui in Hawaii, the Galapagos Islands and Seychelles.
On its web site, T+L said, “There’s nothing quite like immersing yourself in the natural wonders of the Philippine archipelago, which many of our readers described as ‘rustic’, ‘romantic’, ‘affordable’ and ‘relaxing’. As one fan succinctly wrote, ‘It’s the single most beautiful place on earth.’ Palawan, which consists of an eponymous main island, in addition to some 1,800 surrounding islets and island outposts, is a repeat winner on the list, first scoring the No. 1 spot in 2013.”
Aside from its limestone cliffs and caverns, colorful coral reefs and lush mountains, Palawan also has secluded white beaches, hidden lagoons and the Puerto Princesa Underground River (PPUR), a Unesco World Heritage site.
Discovery Shores Boracay was ranked No. 7 on the 10 Best Resorts Hotels in Southeast Asia, which was topped by the 137 Pillars House in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
“We are honored to be listed as one of the top 10 Best Resort Hotels in Southeast Asia in Travel + Leisure magazine’s World’s Best Awards 2017. This is indeed another reason to celebrate on our 10th year,” Discovery Shores said on its Facebook page. The magazine’s World’s Best Awards, which is acclaimed as one of the leading barometers of travel destinations, will host a celebration in New York City on July 26 (July 27 in Manila) in honor of this year’s winners.
Teo, along with Palawan local government executives, recently hosted a visit of officials from the UNWTO, led by its Secretary-General Taleb Rifai. They visited the PPUR, as well as an indigenous community in Sitio Sabang, Barangay Cabayugan, where they planted mangrove seedlings, interacted with community stakeholders, including native tour guides, souvenir makers and boatmen.