Time to ‘sell’ PHL’s other prime tourist spots–solon

In Photo: Francisco Estrella stands at the door of the heritage house in Batanes where his family has lived for generations. Originally owned by Luisa Estrella in 1887, it was passed on to her favorite nephew, Jose Dakay Estrella, after whom the house was named. Francisco now takes care of the House of Dakay. On September 13, 1918, an earthquake hit the island, but the House of Dakay—along with four other houses —remained standing. The walls of the house are very thick and made of stone and lime. The roof is made of cogon grass about a third of a meter thick. The House of Dakay is recognized as a World Heritage building by the Unesco.

A lawmaker is urging the Department of Tourism (DOT) to undertake an aggressive marketing campaign to sell the Philippines’s other prime tourist spots.

Rep. Luis Raymund F. Villafuerte Jr. of the Second District of Camarines Sur issued the statement on Thursday as one of the country’s main attractions—Boracay Island—has been ordered closed by President Duterte for six months to save it from environmental degradation.

He added the DOT, the local government units and the private sector should work together on new marketing strategies to sell the Philippines as Asia’s premier tourist destination by developing its potentials as an eco-tourism and adventure sports hub.

He said the DOT can take advantage of the country’s natural attractions and the Filipinos’ famed hospitality and relative fluency in English to market the Philippines as an ecotourism haven.

Citing Camarines Sur as an example, Villafuerte noted that the success of the tourism sector in the province was anchored on its promotion and development as a sports and adventure destination.

He said promoting a site as a sports tourism hub has a higher probability of tourists returning to the area because they have to train there to improve their skills.

“The DOT can do wonders by aggressively pitching the country as an ecotourism haven and as an extreme sports destination, for one, to make up for Boracay’s shutdown,” Villafuerte added.

Boracay, which attracts about two million tourists every year, was ordered closed by the President for a period of six months, starting April 26, to allow the island’s rehabilitation.

According to the lawmaker, given the right tools, the DOT would not find it difficult to sustain the Philippines’s growing number of foreign tourist arrivals even with the closure of Boracay Island, given that even authoritative and respected online publications such as forbes.com have acknowledged the country as among Asia’s booming tourist locations owing to improvements in infrastructure and land, air and sea connectivity.

Earlier, forbes.com named the Philippines along with Japan, Malaysia, Indonesia and South Korea as experiencing a “marked uptick” in tourist arrivals.

“The Philippines was reported in the article with a 10.96 percent growth in 2017 tourist numbers, or 6.6 million, with over 675,000 coming from Europe— 7.3 percent higher compared to the previous year,” he said.



Image Credits: Stephanie Tumampos

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Jovee Marie Dela Cruz is working as a reporter in the country's leading business newspaper the BusinessMirror since 2013. Ms. Dela Cruz, who is in the media industry for 8 years, is currently covering the House of Representatives. She graduated from Universidad De Manila with a degree of Bachelor of Arts in Political Science in 2008. At present, Ms. Dela Cruz is finishing up her master's degree in communication at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP).