EDITORIAL - Asiaâs leading destination

EDITORIAL - Asia’s leading destination

(The Philippine Star) - November 30, 2020 - 12:00am

The Philippines has always taken pride in its world-class beaches and diving sites. Now another destination is increasingly gaining recognition among international travelers: Intramuros, Manila’s walled city.

Manila has long been associated with urban blight, but Intramuros has always had the potential to be turned into what in other countries are the historic Old Towns. Such preserved enclaves are typically major tourism draws.

In recent years, efforts have been made to restore Intramuros to its historical splendor. Museums have been opened, vehicle movement regulated and, in the past months, more streetlights and artistic building illumination installed. Fort Santiago has been rehabilitated. The efforts have started paying off. In 2016, the walled city was chosen for the first time as Asia’s Leading Tourist Attraction, at the World Travel Awards Asia.

This year, at the 27th edition of the awards, Intramuros has repeated its feat. The Philippines also bagged its fourth award as Asia’s Leading Beach Destination and its second as Asia’s Leading Dive Destination. The awards in the World category are still being awaited, but the regional recognitions are welcome news even as the coronavirus pandemic continues to wreak havoc on the global travel and tourism industry.

With COVID vaccines now being prepared for mass application, it’s only a matter of time before people will start traveling again. There will be stiff competition for visitors especially among countries whose economies are heavily dependent on tourism. The World Travel Awards make it easier to market the Philippines as a priority destination for people who are raring to end the COVID mobility restrictions.

The pandemic has shown the economic importance of tourism and its downstream industries. With the latest official accolades, the challenge is to maintain the environment that won the recognition. Travel destinations must not only feature unique attractions but must also be clean, safe, and supported by the necessary services and infrastructure. Winning awards this year is not enough; the country must sustain the momentum and develop a solid reputation as a top travel destination.

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