Speaking of "tourist things," a lot of Philippine travel-related changes have occurred this year, not least because the Filipinos put a new President in power. In case you were too busy to hear about them, or you simply need a refresher, here's what's hot (and what's not) in Philippine travel this 2016.
"It's More Fun in the Philippines" to Be Scrapped As PHL Tourism Slogan — NOT
At one point, the Philippine Department of Tourism (DoT) considered revising the "It's More Fun in the Philippines" slogan. Supposedly, the reason was that an international tourism official commented that the slogan was just "good enough" and needed an "upscale." The slogan was also blamed for the less-than-stellar number of foreign tourist arrivals since its inception in 2012. And so, DoT officials put their heads together, and tried to come up with a meaningful, yet equally catchy, answer to the question: "Why is it more fun in the Philippines?"
As it turns out, a different approach was necessary. The DoT decided to retain the slogan (presumably due to pressure from the trade), but revealed that they might "improve" on it to reflect the Filipino's unique brand of hospitality. Until then, remember to have fun in the Philippines!
Boracay Tops Condé Nast Traveler's "World's Best Islands" List
Say what you will about Boracay, but it still has a certain charm even after years of commercialization. Even though it failed to make the top 10 within the past two years, Boracay managed to come from behind and beat other hot spots as the world's best island, according to readers of international travel magazine Condé Nast Traveler. The magazine credits Boracay's success to its "gentle coastlines," "transporting sunsets," and "thriving nightlife scene."
Aside from Boracay, two other Philippine islands made the top 5: Palawan and Cebu. Condé Nast Traveler cites Palawan's status as a home to one of the natural wonders of the world, and Cebu's "personal" atmosphere and "up-and-coming restaurants and shopping," as the reasons for their ranking at number two and 5, respectively.
More Roads to Link Tourist Spots in Visayas
Can't decide whether to frolic in the beaches of Boracay, or enjoy the bustling cities of Cebu? Not to worry, dear readers: The government has come to your rescue.
Since 2012, the DoT and Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) have been building roads to link the provinces of Negros Occidental, Iloilo, Guimaras, Capiz, Antique, and Aklan. The project is worth at least Php2.97 billion, and spans 339.5 kilometers.
Additionally, Php1.75 billion will be set aside in 2016-2017 to construct more roads in the abovementioned provinces except Negros Occidental. If all goes well, travelling within the Visayan Islands will be more convenient and affordable, so keep your fingers crossed!
Despite Stormy Weather, PHL Travel Expo a Success
Last October 13, the Travel Blog Exchange (TBX) at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) drew around 500 international travel bloggers. Although the last day of the expo, October 16, culminated in rainy weather brought about by Typhoon Karen (international name "Sarika"), the event still managed to give the bloggers a taste of Filipino hospitality.
For example, the guests were given a sample of dishes unique to the Philippines, like lechon, adobo, longganisa and lumpia. DoT secretary Wanda Teo also encouraged the bloggers to "open themselves" to the "Philippine experience," and have a taste of the country's over 7,000 islands, the cultures of which were shaped by both native and foreign influences over the centuries.
Miss Universe 2016 to be Held in the Philippines
After Pia Wurtzbach became Miss Universe 2015, ending the country's 42-year drought for that title, the Philippines once again had the honor of hosting one of the world's most prestigious beauty pageants.
As of this writing, Miss Universe 2016 will take place at the Mall of Asia Arena on January 30, 2017. The pageant is expected to draw 11 stunners from all over the Asia-Pacific and Americas, and will be hosted by Steve Harvey. Tickets aren't going to come cheap, but make sure you reserve them ahead of time lest you get beaten by others who can't get enough of seeing beautiful women strut their stuff on stage.
Other noteworthy travel news include the current administration's encouraging of more Chinese tourists to come to the Philippines; more deals inked with Southeast Asian countries to maintain peace and cooperation; and other measures taken by the government to keep tourists safe and sound.
Did we miss anything else? Are there other travel-related policies by the Philippine government that readers should know about? Let us know in the comments below. For now, have an awesome 2017, everyone!