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Feel the Philippines

Article - June 4, 2012
The intensity of Filipinos' national pride and their enthusiasm to share it with others is being tapped as part of promoting the Philippines as the ultimate holiday experience.
“The President and I do not want this to be a tourism industry that only counts the number of visitors. Its success will be measured in terms of its ability to build income and job opportunities for our people. We are engaging Filipino people in all kinds of tourism activity: home-stay [B&B] programmes, crafts, culinary activities, guides, youth training, etc.,” says Secretary of Tourism Ramon R Jimenez Jr. “As a world, we have to begin to welcome each other as people, not as some nameless thing called a tourist. This is tourism in a human sense, like visits from friends. There is a whole generation of young people who are fiercely proud of this country. If you love your country, say so by welcoming a tourist well.”

“I have been asked many times: How do you sell the world’s most beautiful country? Tourism is a country effort and therefore it must be something that everyone in the country gets behind”

Ramon R Jimenez Jr, Secretary of Tourism

A reflection of this national pride and passion can be seen in the success of the new social media-fuelled tourism campaign – It’s More Fun in the Philippines. Images of the Philippines’ spectacular natural beauty combine with imaginative taglines to contrast environments. For example, an image of bangkas, or small boats, waiting by the beach at Mindoro to take tourists out to sea, with the slogan ‘Parking, it’s more fun in the Philippines’; a scene with kids playing on rice terraces with the line ‘Climbing stairs, it’s more fun in the Philippines’ by the escalators on the London underground; or people playing with a whale shark and ‘Pets are more fun in the Philippines’.

One of the ads shows a boat serenely floating along the Puerto Princesa Underground River, voted one of the New7Wonders of Nature, and in contrast with other ‘underground’ systems. “More and more people want to see it but we have a deep commitment to preserving the environment,” says Mr Jimenez. “At the moment we only allow about 700 people a day to see it on six boats at a time. No motorboats are allowed, no artificial lights, only flashlights. It is a very quiet, tranquil place, where you can experience total darkness, if just for 10 seconds.”

Luxury tourism

The choice of tourism activities on offer in the Philippines is vast and varied, as would be expected from an archipelago of more than 7,000 islands, and will indeed help the government in its bid to attract 10 million visitors annually by 2016.

Pamalican Island, for example, has been rated as one of the most romantic getaways in the world and dedicated to the exclusive resort of Amanpulo. Named after the Sanskrit word for peace, aman, and the Tagalog word for island, Amanpulo is a serene retreat skirted by sweeping pure white sands, clear turquoise seas and endless blue skies for which the Philippine archipelago is renowned. It is the epitome of an island paradise.

Little more than three miles long and 500 metres across at its widest point, beachcombers can leisurely explore the island on foot in just a couple of hours. However, private buggies are provided at each of the resort’s 40 casitas, located on the beach, amongst the treetops or on the hillside overlooking the Sulu Sea. Private villa homes just a few feet from the sea are also available for rent and purchase at Amanpulo, and each villa even features a private swimming pool.

Popular locations, such as the island paradise of Boracay or the welcoming city of Cebu, may grab greater column inches and talk time internationally, however one glance at the Philippines’ breathtaking high-end options will sweep anyone off their feet.