Oh my! Conde Nast Traveler, one of the premiere travel magazines in the world today, has included good ol’ PH as one of the destinations to watch in 2013.
See here the amazing recommendation for the Philippines:
“For travellers willing to go the extra thousand miles for a deserted beach, the Philippines has around 7,000 of the most heavenly islands in the world. It’s still not the most obvious beach-holiday destination, but it soon will be.
It’s becoming particularly popular among serious divers, who come for the incredible underwater life, unspoilt coral gardens with rainbow-bright fish, green sea turtles and dugongs. In Bicol you can swim with the biggest fish in the world, the whale shark. While fish-fans of a different nature can go deep-sea fishing in one of the deepest trenches in the oceans, not far from the little-known island of Siargao.
The archipelago of Palawan ticks all the boxes: palm-fringed white-powder beaches, crystal-clear turquoise waters, natural lagoons for wild swimming on Miniloc Island – all of it protected by UNESCO. Its Bacuit Bay is something like Halong Bay in Vietnam, only without all the tourists – for the time being, at least. There are just a handful of resorts, which are tasteful and deliberately low-key. Two of the newest are Ariara Island and El Nido Pangulasian Island, a private-island resort with palm-thatched villas, a spa, its own dive centre, and sea views to melt the heart.
Another super-stylish new opening is Dedon Island, on Siargao; it’s owned and designed by contemporary furniture brand Dedon. And a perennial favourite is Amanpulo, yet another high-design private-island hotel on Pamalican Island. Or sail around them all on Alila’s new boat, the Phinsi.”
The current online issue also includes a guide to discovering the many facets of the Philippines.
That indeed is good news. Considering the hard work being put in by the Department of Tourism (DOT) which seemed to experience a resurgence following the appointment of Secretary Ramon Jimenez. A former ad man, Secretary Jimenez was able to bring interest back to this country of 7,000 islands. Maybe it’s the catchy campaign, “Its More Fun in the Philippines” or the fact that our best beaches are being discovered by the rest of the world just now. Truth is, the emergence of the Philippines as a top travel destination is something that this government should take seriously.
Here are the things that should be our top priority:
1. The Airport
On top of our obvious concerns would be that danged prehistoric building called, “The Ninoy Aquino Internal Airport, Terminal I.” The reputation of this terminal is lower than the Marianas Trench. It’s been called the worst by some of the world’s leading travel sites and yet still, it is still in operation (leaky faucets, unappetizing lounge food, stomach-churning arrivals waiting area and all.)
I really hope the government can do something about this airport, and not just be proud of the fact that “travelers are out of the NAIA in 25 minutes flat.” I don’t know what this tourism executive is smoking, but I can assure him that given the facilities in that airport, I’ll strive to be out of there too in 25 minutes flat, maybe 20 minutes if I am really desperate. If you have nothing to do inside the dimly-lit, aging building, would you want to stay there?
I can understand the hesitation to leave if there’s no available facility to use, but we have the humongous Terminal 3 gathering dust and sorely underutilized. I hope that this year, more international flights will get transferred to T3.
2. Reliable transportation system to get in and out of the airports
The few countries I’ve been to had one thing in common: an efficient transportation system that allows travelers to get in and out of the airport using their transpo of choice. Meaning, they are not stuck with cabs — and can opt to use the MRT (linked directly to the airport, like in HK and SG) or by bus with direct routes to the airport (in Seoul and Busan). Unfortunately, right now, all we can offer are “official” airport cabs that will charge you an arm and a leg just to be able to travel. Let’s not make it hard for the tourists. While we are at it, can we do something about dilapidated cabs that smelled like a forgotten public rest room.
Every country has its security and safety problem. But, it gets really embarrassing whenever we hear tourists being mugged or taken for a ride by touts. I hope that the government will make tourists feel more secure traveling our country. After all, it’s the memories they make that will either keep them coming back or make them stay away for good.
These are the things that are on top of my mind. I know that they’re basic requirements for every traveler, something that can make or break a trip.