PH secures two major awards in 2019 World Travel Awards

Aileen Cerrudo   •   October 16, 2019   •   188

TOURISM AWARDS – Department of Tourism Undersecretary Arturo Boncato Jr. receives the Asia’s Leading Tourism Board and Asia’s Leading Dive Destination awards at the 2019 World Travel Awards on Saturday (Oct. 12). The DOT was hailed as Asia’s Leading Tourism Board after a significant increase in the country’s visitor arrivals has been recorded in the past year. (Photo courtesy of DOT)

The Philippines bagged two major awards at the 2019 World Travel Awards in Vietnam on October 12.

The 2019 World Travel Awards has hailed the Department of Tourism (DOT) as Asia’s Leading Tourism Board after it recorded a significant increase in visitor arrivals for the country in the past year.

There was a 14.08 percent year-on-year increase in the country’s international inbound traffic, based on the data of the DOT.

The country was also recognized as Asia’s Leading Dive Destination. According to the DOT, dive tourism is one of the key areas in the National Tourism Development Plan (NTDP ) 2016 – 2022.

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said the awards are “for all Filipinos to celebrate.”

“A triumph as great as this simply could not be possible without the combined hard work from the government, industry partners, and tourism stakeholders in realizing a more upward tourism industry for the country,” she said.—AAC

Saudi Arabia opens to tourists with new visa, no abaya rule

Robie de Guzman   •   September 28, 2019

Saudi Arabia threw open its doors to tourists on Friday (September 27), launching a new visa program for 49 countries and appealing to foreign companies to invest in a sector it hopes will contribute 10% of gross domestic product by 2030.

Visas will be available online for about $80 (£65), with no restrictions for unaccompanied women as in the past.

Access to the Muslim cities of Mecca and Medina is restricted. Until now, foreigners travelling to Saudi Arabia have been largely restricted to resident workers and their dependents, business travellers, and Muslim pilgrims who receive special visas to visit holy sites.

The ultra-conservative Muslim kingdom has in recent years relaxed strict social codes, like segregating men and women in public places and requiring women to wear all-covering black robes, or abayas.

Tourism chief Ahmed al-Khateeb told Reuters in an interview ahead of the official announcement that abayas will not be mandatory for women tourists but modest dress is, including at public beaches.

Khateeb said China, Japan, Europe and the United States were among the top outbound targets.

The move is part of de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s ambitious plans to develop new industries to wean the world’s top oil exporter off crude and open up society.

Many of his reforms received international praise, but his image has been tarnished by the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the arrest of critics including prominent women activists, and a nearly five-year war in Yemen where tens of thousands of people have been killed.

More details, including which countries are eligible, were expected later on Friday. (Reuters)

(Production: Nael Shyouki)

DOT fetes Palawan as among world’s 10 most beautiful islands

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 27, 2019

The Department of Tourism (DOT) celebrates the recognition of Palawan after it was hailed as among the world’s 10 best islands by CNN Travel.

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat has lauded the efforts of the local government in Palawan for promoting sustainable tourism.

“Our rehabilitation efforts to preserve the beauty of Palawan did not go unnoticed. We are thankful for this CNN citation of our tourist destinations,” she said.

According to CNN Travel, Palawan is “a gorgeous haven of pale sand and clear water.”

Included in the list of best islands in the world are Milos, Greece; Bartolomé, Ecuador; Fregate, Seychelles; St. Lucia, Lesser Antilles; Jura, Scotland; Komodo Island, Indonesia; and Kaua’i, United States.

Meanwhile, Travel+Leisure magazine in New York ranked Palawan second among world’s best islands.—AAC

DOT, Grab sign deal for sustainable PHL tourism

Robie de Guzman   •   August 29, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Tourism (DOT) and Grab Philippines have signed an agreement to promote national tourism.

Under the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) inked on Wednesday, tourism materials developed and produced by the DOT showcasing the Philippines’ destination sites will be promoted and disseminated by Grab through its partner vehicles and mobile application.

DOT, Grab and the Intramuros Administration also launched “GrabWheels,” a two-wheel personal mobility device (commonly called e-scooters) that tourists can use to roam around the Walled City.

Around 30 units of GrabWheels will be made available for public use within Intramuros, free of charge for at least three months.

“This is in keeping with the efforts of the DOT to inculcate a culture of sustainable tourism. This is what we envision to do to some, and ideally, to all of our destinations. We want visitors to have access to an eco-friendly but fun mode of transportation,” Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said during the MOU signing. 

“Sustainability demands that our planning and resources management must be responsible. Conversely, it should also maintain a high level of satisfaction and ensure meaningful experience of our tourists,” she stressed.

The Intramuros Administration also noted that these e-scooters will provide less carbon footprint and significantly reduce traffic congestion, which is a major problem in the area.

“This is just a pilot test. After a month, we will review its reception and determine the necessary mechanisms and setting of fees to make it sustainable,” Atty. Guiller Asido of the Intramuros Administration said.

Puyat also expressed hope that DOT’s partnership with Grab PH will help raise awareness among the public about the environmental issues facing the country.

“This partnership, hopefully, will raise their awareness about environmental issues and allow them to experience first-hand these sustainable tourism practices,” she said. 

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