Philippines wins top plums in World Travel Awards
“We are incredibly grateful for the recognitions given to the Philippines’ magnificent dive sites and the beautifully-restored heritage site of Intramuros at the 27th World Travel Awards,” Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said.
STAR/ File

Philippines wins top plums in World Travel Awards

Catherine Talavera (The Philippine Star) - November 29, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The old walled city of Intramuros has been adjudged the world’s leading tourist attraction for this year at the 27th World Travel Awards (WTA), which also crowned the country as the leading diving destination.

“We are incredibly grateful for the recognitions given to the Philippines’ magnificent dive sites and the beautifully-restored heritage site of Intramuros at the 27th World Travel Awards,” Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said.

“We will continue to promote sustainable, inclusive and world-class tourism, especially now as we slowly reopen our attractions to more domestic tourists,” she added.

This is the Philippines’ second win as the World’s Leading Dive Destination, beating different dive destinations around the world such as Azores Islands, Bora Bora, French Polynesia, Cayman Islands, Fiji, Galapagos Islands, Great Barrier Reef (Australia), Maldives and Mexico.

In contrast, it is Intramuros’ first time to win World’s Leading Tourist Attraction, beating 15 different attractions such as Acropolis of Greece, Burj Khalifa of Dubai, the Grand Canyon National Park of the US, Mount Kilimanjaro of Tanzania and Taj Mahal of India, among others.

The Philippines earlier bagged accolades in the Asian leg of the WTA, particularly winning as Asia’s leading dive and beach destination. Intramuros also won as Asia’s leading tourist attraction.

In addition, the country’s Department of Tourism (DOT) was declared as this year’s leading tourist board in Asia, beating 11 nominated countries.

“These recognitions are certainly an inspiration to the industry as we safely and gradually reopen our destinations for tourism. These would not be possible without the combined efforts from our tourism stakeholders, local government units, partner agencies and our fellow Filipinos who have tirelessly promoted our country’s attractions, products and culture,” Puyat said earlier.

DOT has recognized dive tourism as one of the key areas for positive industry growth, including increased visitor count, extended length of stay and higher tourism revenue.

The Philippines is home to the highest concentration of coral reef life and a variety of marine species in its world-renowned dive sites such as the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park in Palawan, Apo Reef Natural Park in Mindoro and Apo Island in Dumaguete, among others.

Batangas recently reopened its dive sites establishments in Anilao for recreational diving, but guests are required to present negative COVID test result as well as observe minimum health and safety standards.

In Manila, on the other hand, Intramuros Administration (IA) has restored the walled city, with extensive renovations including installing bright capiz lamps around monuments and trees, unveiling colorful murals and new sites, such as the dungeon, to highlight the country’s Hispanic past. Through its programs, IA ensures Intramuros remains an iconic tourism site that honors the Philippines’ glorious past.

Founded in 1993, the World Travel Awards has been recognizing brands and organizations worldwide from the travel, tourism and hospitality industries through its annual Grand Tour, a series of six regional gala ceremonies held in each continent. Each year is capped with a Grand Final Gala.

The Philippines continues to retain the interest of the international traveling market despite the raging pandemic as a number of its destinations continue to be cited in travel magazines and websites.

In October, Palawan and Boracay ranked 8th and 18th in the Big 7 Travel’s 50 most beautiful places in the world list. The islands were also voted as among the best islands in Asia by readers of Conde Nast Traveler.

The DOT said it is optimistic that the WTA honors will inspire more people to travel and in effect help the Philippines’ tourism industry to recover after a challenging period.

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