February 20, 2009

RP Tourism Laurels for 2008

Several tourist destinations in the Philippines gave Filipinos a new source of pride as they received recognition from international organizations and institutions last 2008e. Here are the top stories of tourism achievements in 2008.

RP Cities featured in Korean Travel Magazine
South Korea’s top travel magazine Ab-road began its 2008 line-up with the Philippines as its cover story and the San Agustin Church as cover photo. The article, “Insider’s Guide to Philippines”, featured three Metro cities (Manila, Pasay, and Makati) plus other interesting sites all over the country, which included the Chocolate Hills of Bohol and El Nido in Palawan. The article also gave a list of must-try Filipino dishes, interesting shopping centers such as Power Plant Mall, maps and port schedules.

Ab-road Magazine, managed by RoadABC Media is a license of Ab-road, a Japan-based magazine company that forged partnership with the Philippine Department of Tourism (DOT) to encourage Japanese couples to get married in the country. (read related article here)

Boracay, Palawan included in Best Holiday Destinations
Two popular destinations here in the Philippines, Boracay and Palawan, were included in the Top 10 Holiday Destinations by Smart Travel Asia. The poll, released September 2008, ranked Boracay and Palawan as the seventh and eight best holiday destination in Asia. Bali, Indonesia garnered the top spot with 14 percent of the total votes.

According to Smart Travel Asia, the poll results reflect the online voters' "substantial hands-on travel experience, word-of-mouth at dinnertime chats, as well as an idea of the brand drawn from advertising and editorial exposure in the media, which is mostly online." Smart Travel Asia is the region’s only dedicated online travel magazine with over one million readers worldwide.

Two Mindanao Landmarks recognized as possible UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Mount Apo Natural Park and Mount Hamiguitan Wildlife Sanctuary were selected to be included in United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Sites last October 9, 2008. Mt. Apo, a volcanic mountain rising to 3,143.6 meters above sea level, hosts five (5) distinct forest formations. It is considered to be one of the richest botanical mountains in the region hosting hundreds of rare, endemic and threatened species of flora. These include the Vanda sanderiana (Waling-Waling) which is recognized as the “Queen of Philippine Orchids” and recommended by plant enthusiasts as the Philippine National Flower.

Mount Hamiguitan, on the other hand, is the only protected forest noted for its unique bonsai field or ‘pygmy’ forest of 100-year old trees in an ultramafic soil. One of the endangered bird species located here is the Philippine eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi). It has been identified by Conservation International as one of the Philippines’ ‘hotspots’ for conservation and protection.

Cebu Hailed as one of Top Islands in Asia.
Conde Nast Traveler, an international New York-published magazine, hailed Cebu as the seventh Top Island last November 2008 for the Condé Nast Traveler Readers' Choice Awards. (read related article here). The Visayan island bested Langkawi of Malaysia, Borneo and Lombok of Indonesia.

According to Condé Nast Traveler Editor in Chief Klara Glowczewska, the Readers’ Choice Award “celebrate[s] the destinations, lodgings, and modes of transportation that manage to exceed our expectations”.

RP Dive Sites declared as World’s Best
Sport Diver, the official magazine of the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) Diving Society, named Apo Island Marine Sanctuary in Dumaguete City and Malapascua in Cebu as two of the must-see dive sites throughout the world. The two sites were part of the magazine issue, “The Ultimate Dive Destinations Presents: 100 Dives To Do Before You Die”. The United Kingdom-based magazine describes the special edition magazine as “a collection of truly awe-inspiring wrecks, reefs, and marine life encounters.”

According to DOT Secretary Joseph Ace Durano, Malapascua was chosen for its consistent sightings of thresher shark while Apo Island was chosen for its picturesque corals and marine life presence.

Philippine Destinations Nominated for New 7 Wonders of Nature
Mayon Volcano in Albay, Taal Volcano in Batangas, Chocolate Hills in Bohol, Tubbataha Reef in Palawan, Mount Pinatubo in Pampanga, and Hundred Islands National Park in Pangasinan were nominated to become one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature.

For several months, several organizations, including the DOT, campaigned for these natural wonders to become part of the New 7 Wonders of Nature. The Puerto Princesa Subterranean River was constantly in top position while the rest of the nominees were not far behind. The first phase of voting, done via internet, was concluded last December 31, 2008.

After months of constant campaign, Puerto Princesa Subterranean River is the country’s official entry for the New7Wonders of Nature. The NewOpenWorld Corporation, (NOWC), the company managing the New7Wonders campaign, released the list of nominees that qualified for the second phase of voting last January 7, 2009.

According to the New 7 Wonders website, out of the original 441 entries, 261 qualified for the second phase of voting. Then, the New7Wonders of Nature Panel of Experts, under the leadership of Prof. Federico Mayor, former Director-General of UNESCO, will review the top 77 nominees and choose the 21 finalists, to be announced on July 21, 2009. Voting will continue throughout 2010 and into 2011. During this time, the New7Wonders World Tour will visit each of the Finalists to allow them to present themselves to the voters across the globe. The New 7 Wonders of Nature will be announced in 2011.

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Kasal.com thanks the following sources for this article:

Wikipilipinas. Tourism triumphs of 2008
Re-posted at Manila Bulletin (Travel Section)

AB-ROAD Magazine January 2008 Issue summary (text in Korean)

Good News Pilipinas. Top Korean travel mag features RP cities (Posted March 17, 2008)

Dizon, David, abs-cbnNEWS.com. Boracay, Palawan among Asia's top vacation spots: poll (Posted September 17, 2008)

Smart TraveL Asia Best Travel Brands 2008.

UNESCO World Heritage Centre. Tentative List for World Heritage Sites in Philippines (Posted October 9, 2008)

Costas, Boboi. Cebu Daily News. Condé Nast Magazine's Survey. (Posted November 2, 2008) Retrieved November 16, 2008 from
Re posted at INQUIRER.net at

Jaymalin, Mayen, Philstar.com. 2 more RP sites among 100 top dive spots (Posted November 18, 2008)

Domingo, Ronnel, Philippine Daily Inquirer. 2 RP sites make it to ‘must dive’ list (Posted November 18, 2008)

Lontayao , Rommel C. The Manila Times. Two RP diving sites among world’s best (Posted November 18, 2008)

ABS-CBN News. RP sites on world's top 100 diving destinations (Posted November 19, 2008)

Good News Pilipinas. Malapascua & Apo Island among world’s top dive spots (Posted November 21, 2008)

ABS-CBN News with reports from Abner Mercado, and Umagang Kay Ganda. RP's strong contender in New7Wonders tops list of nominees. (Posted December 31, 2008)

Business Mirror. Subterranean River represents RP to the world (Posted January 7, 2009)
Re-posted at ABS-CBN News at

Department of Tourism. Puerto Princesa Underground River Makes History - Official Philippine Nominee to the New 7 Wonders of Nature. (Posted January 8, 2009)

New7Wonders. Puerto Princesa Subterranean River Live Ranking

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