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The goldmine that is Philippine tourism

I have said it time and again, and I will not tire of saying it: the Philippines has so much to offer the traveler. There is so much potential in Philippine tourism: it’s a real goldmine. That is why today we will have again our annual Tourism Summit at the Ayala Malls Manila Bay.

This year’s Tourism Summit is getting a boost with the presence of First Lady Liza Araneta Marcos, who has been very supportive of our MSMEs by making it a point to grace our events.

Of course, Department of Tourism Sec. Christina Garcia Frasco will be with us, and will personally congratulate the winners for this year’s Inspiring Tourism Entrepreneurs Awards. She was also with us at our Tourism Summit last year in Cebu, and I was glad for the opportunity to travel again to this city.

I travel a lot. Mostly for work and, when time allows it, for leisure. For my work with the ASEAN, I go on short trips throughout Southeast Asia; I also enjoy visiting Japan and Hong Kong. Here in the Philippines, every year I get on the boat and sail around our beautiful islands. I also visit Baguio almost regularly for our RFM meetings, and last year I had the opportunity to visit some provinces where we conducted our nationwide mentoring and national events.

For leisure, my travel mode of choice is by water. It is the best way to see what I believe are the Philippines’ greatest travel assets: its islands. Although I stopped diving years ago and just snorkel nowadays, it is still quite an enjoyable experience hopping from island to island in the southern corridors.

Close to Manila is the Batangas-Mindoro corridor. If you’re a diving enthusiast like me, you could ease into the trip starting with Anilao and Puerto Galera. Apo Reef in Mindoro offers one of the best diving in these parts. This also is a convenient entry point to my favorite travel destination, Palawan. I especially enjoy sailing around the islands in this area, which are unlike anything else on the planet. Coron, Linapacan and El Nido – one could stay for days here, living on the boat and diving when the time is best to see the corals and the marine life, or just relax along the spectacular white sand beaches like the one on Balabac Island. The nice thing about the strait of Coron to Linapacan is the long stretch of islands up to El Nido. From there, you can go all the way to Puerto Princesa.

It can be possible to sail for a whole month, maybe even two, exploring the Visayas corridor. Start in Cebu and trace the famous sailing triangle there; going down to Malapascua to see the tiger sharks, passing the night on the beaches around the tiny island of Calanggaman. And on the way back you can go through Cabilao, maybe do a side trip to Bohol to sail beside (or even swim with) the dolphins there. Or maybe sail through Balicasag and all the way to Oslob, where the whale sharks are, and then to Siquijor to spend a few days exploring their white-sand beaches and reefs teeming with marine life.

From my experience, the best time to explore the islands is from April to May, two months that ensure calm waters and smooth inter-island sailing. This could maybe stretch until June, but after that, the habagat (southwest monsoon) might make for rough waters.

But there’s more to the sights. I’ve been on guided tours in Palawan that give you the real island experience. One such tour operator took us on a backpacker type of adventure on the islands around Palawan, but of course sparing us the rougher parts because, I suppose, that is part of the service.

I find that travel allows you to step back and discover new concepts and, more importantly, to challenge your own ideas. I remember it was through travel that I got the idea for Kettle Korn. I saw something similar in the US and I was so inspired by it that, once I got back to the Philippines, I registered the new business right away and set out to create something a little different from the other brands that were already here.

Travel is so important for anyone who’s in business; you have to know what is out there: either to find out what you can improve or what unique product you can offer. It’s an opportunity to see what the competition is up to.

I realized this during my recent trip to Laos to attend meetings for the ASEAN. The rail systems that are coming up and connecting cities in Southeast Asia, for example, could change the game drastically. I can imagine how easy it will be to travel from the cosmopolitan city of Bangkok to rural Luang Prabang, eliminating for travelers the hassle of booking separate trips and giving the tourism business of these two countries a tremendous boost.

The small entrepreneurs I’ve spoken to find that travel is a gift that keeps on giving. Some of these young travel entrepreneurs told me that they build their own travel experiences in order to enhance the products and services they offer their customers. They discover small, hidden places or exciting experiences and weave these into the customized packages they create.

Travel content creators and influencers, meanwhile, mine their experiences for content that can bring them not just advertising revenues but also potential brand deals and affiliate marketing opportunities. This is an example of how digitalization has created an industry that has become more inclusive and exciting, where small tourism operators have an equal footing with the giants.

And with a gem like the Philippines, who knows how much farther we can take Philippine tourism.

Source: Go Negosyo -


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