Major int’l publications agree Philippines is ‘hottest’ destination


MANILA, Philippines—The Philippines is at it again.

After the successful “It’s More Fun in the Philippines” tourism campaign, which observes its first anniversary on Saturday, two more respected international publications have included the country on their list of the top destinations in the world for 2013.

New York-based Travel+Leisure Magazine, the rival of Condé Nast Traveler, named the Philippines as one of the 13 “Hottest Travel Destinations of 2013” in its January issue.

On Friday, The New York Times also placed the country at number 17 on its list of “46 Places to Go in 2013,” ahead of Bangkok, Paris and Casablanca.

“A surfing and beach destination goes luxe … Idyllic white sand beaches, secluded, little-known surf towns and pristine reefs are among the natural draws of this country made up of over 7,000 tropical islands,” The New York Times said.

“Now in addition to the more upscale choices cropping up in former backpacking enclaves like Boracay, there is a new generation of luxury hotels opening even further afield,” it added.

The paper noted the new Dedon Island resort on Siargao, adding that it was “close to one of the world’s best surf breaks, Cloud 9, (of which famous American surfer Kelly Slater is a fan), and has an outdoor cinema along with spa and paddle board classes.”

“And the private island resort of El Nido Pangulasian opens this month in the Unesco biosphere of Palawan, right by some of the world’s most pristine diving spots,” it added.

The New York Times said that while the Philippines has been subject to travel advisories in the past, “they mostly focus on Mindanao in the south.”

“For extra security, outfitters like Asian expert Remote Lands organize private transfers and local guides,” the paper said.

Travel+Leisure Magazine, which has 4.8 million readers, noted that while there were safety concerns before about the Philippines, it was now “safe to visit once again.”

“Two countries written off in recent years—Zambia and the Philippines—are safe to visit once again, and thriving with new safari camps and island thatched-roof villas,” Travel+Leisure said.

“The archipelago of Palawan, a Unesco biosphere reserve in the Philippines, just added a resort with a scuba center; hop a two-hour flight from Hong Kong, and you’ll soon be diving with the sea turtles,” it added.

The magazine particularly mentioned El Nido Pangulasian Island and the 125-acre private island of Ariara in Palawan, and the Eskaya Beach Resort and Spa in Panglao, Bohol.

“Boracay hogs the spotlight, but there are thousands of other islands to lure beach lovers,” Travel+Leisure added.

Serious player

Tourism Assistant Secretary Benito Bengzon Jr. said endorsement from these top publications showed that the Philippines was now “a serious player” in global tourism.

“This is a very good development for our country. It is a very concrete proof that foreigners now have a high awareness and appreciation of the great travel potentials of the Philippines,” Bengzon said.

“It shows that we are now a serious player,” he added.

Bengzon said the awareness of foreigners about the country was heightened by the launching of the “It’s More Fun in the Philippines” campaign in January last year.

“We’ve advertised and conducted our marketing campaign in all our major markets like Asia-Pacific, North America, Europe, India, Korea and China. And in 2013, we will be even more aggressive,” he said.

Bengzon said the Department of Tourism (DOT) expected the number of tourist arrivals for 2012 to reach 4.2 million to 4.3 million.

This is higher than the 3.9 million registered in 2011 but is lower than the 4.5-million target that the DOT set in 2012.

“There was a slowdown from our Chinese market but this is against picking. For 2013, we are targeting 5.5 million and we are very positive that we can reach that,” Bengzon said.

Very positive

“The feedback to [the “It’s More Fun in the Philippines”] campaign has been very positive not just in terms of tourist arrivals but also in the response of the private sector, from the airlines, travel agents, the hotels and resorts. More hotels are opening this year,” he added.

The other places that made it to Travel+Leisure’s list were Bahia Ballena in Costa Rica, Basilicata in Italy, Puerto Rico, Minneapolis in the United States, Reunion, Nepal, Charlevoix in Quebec, Uco Valley in Argentina, Zambia, Amsterdam, Australia’s Gold Coast, and Marseilles.

The magazine said it initially considered “40-odd places” for its list of top destinations this year.

“To determine which destinations … are coming up on the radar, T+L asked safari experts and art dealers, cutting-edge chefs and even branding agencies where they’re seeing a new neighborhood emerge or wineries getting more acclaim,” Travel+Leisure said.

“What started with 40-odd places we distilled down to a baker’s dozen: the hottest travel destinations of 2013,” it added.

World’s 5th Best Hotel

In the same issue, the magazine also named the Discovery Shores Hotel in Boracay as the 5th Best Hotel in the World.

“Barefoot elegance is undoubtedly the vibe on this tiny island, where the 2 1/2-mile stretch known as White Beach is often singled out for being the softest in the world,” the magazine said.

It said that Discovery Shores’ 88 spacious suites all have large glass walls that look toward a scenic rock garden, “but chances are you’ll spend more time by the water.”

“Take a dip in the infinity pool, or jet-ski on the crystalline sea. For people-watching, head to The Sandbar, where they stir up delicious mojitos, infused with local flavors like lychee and mango,” Travel+Leisure said.

“Once you’re sufficiently refueled, karaoke your heart out, with over 1,000 songs (mostly in English) to choose from at the resort’s recreation lounge,” it added.

The endorsement from Travel+Leisure came as the UK edition of its competitor, Condé Nast Traveller Magazine, also named the Philippines as one of the top 10 hottest new travel destinations for 2013.

“For travelers willing to go the extra thousand miles for a deserted beach, the Philippines has around 7,000 of the most heavenly islands in the world. It’s still not the most obvious beach-holiday destination, but it soon will be,” Condé Nast Traveller said.

Sorry, Maldives

“Sorry, Maldives… We love you, but we’ve got a new flame,” it added.

The magazine said the Philippines was becoming particularly popular among serious divers, who visit for “the incredible underwater life, unspoilt coral gardens with rainbow-bright fish, green sea turtles and dugongs.”

“In Bicol you can swim with the biggest fish in the world, the whale shark. While fish-fans of a different nature can go deep-sea fishing in one of the deepest trenches in the oceans, not far from the little-known island of Siargao,” the magazine said.

“The archipelago of Palawan ticks all the boxes: palm-fringed white-powder beaches, crystal-clear turquoise waters, natural lagoons for wild swimming on Miniloc Island—all of it protected by Unesco,” it added.

Condé Nast said Bacuit Bay in Palawan was something like Halong Bay in Vietnam, “only without all the tourists—for the time being, at least.”

“There are just a handful of resorts, which are tasteful and deliberately low-key. Two of the newest are Ariara Island and El Nido Pangulasian Island, a private-island resort with palm-thatched villas, a spa, its own dive center and sea views to melt the heart,” the magazine said.

Palawan in   top 10

“Another super-stylish new opening is Dedon Island, on Siargao; it’s owned and designed by contemporary furniture brand Dedon. And a perennial favorite is Amanpulo, yet another high-design private-island hotel on Pamalican Island,” it added.

In October, Lonely Planet, reputedly the largest travel guidebook and digital media publisher in the world, also named Palawan among the top 10 best regions to visit in the world for 2013.

Lonely Planet said Palawan was “the ultimate archipelago for adventurers” and best for being “off the beaten track,” adventure and culture.

“Palawan incorporates thousands of sparkling, rugged islands and is fringed by 2000 km of pristine coastline. So far, Palawan’s natural marvels have only been sampled by plucky backpackers. Not for much longer,” Lonely Planet said.

“The trail these pioneers have blazed is set to explode, with regional airlines waking up to Palawan’s potential and clambering to schedule direct flights to the capital,” it said.

“Throw in the mushrooming growth of style-conscious boutique hotels normally found in places like Ko Samui or Bali, and you can feel that Palawan is ready to hit the big-time in 2013,” Lonely Planet added.

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  • basilionisisa

    Congratulations! MAGANDANG balita po, kaya lang…

    pagbutihan sana ang SECURITY ng mga dumarating (attention: PNP, AFP) para maiwasan ang kidnapping, swindling and pickpocketing… mahirap makuha uli ang International Trust pag nawala!

    oh and stricter admittance regulations sana ipatupad sa mga HIV positive tourists. we don’t want to put our own people at risk.

    • Yobhtron

      Korak ka diyan.

    • Xian

      Basilionisisa seriously? Stricter admittance regulations for HIV positive tourists? That’s absurd! even without them your HIV rate in the Philippines is already higher even higher compared to major European tourists

  • The Truth

    2 cents to DOT… Tap the services of Pacquiao, he’s one of the major figure that brings PH back to the world map.

    He could single-handily reach your 10M target in a short time.

  • EOJ

    The best is yet to come for the Philippines!


  • kilawon

    FILTHY PINES …no matter how you  window-dress it,still it would reflect on the rankings among the lowest in the SE and East asian region!….maybe we should get back to reality and start cleaning our own house first before we invite visitors to enter! tsk

    • Platypus09

      That was before.

      We are trying to improve everything, from wages, housing, to standards of living.  

      • kilawon

         maybe we should improve the mindset of uncivilized penoy not to litter their garbage anywhere,dont pee on public places,obey traffic rules and wear clothes wherever they are in streets! lol

      • Rory Cruz

        Mukhang sa Manila ka lang nakakagala a. :))

      • Xian

        Well in Makati except in Guadalupe area I know it’s clean LOL

      • Allan

         TRYING? But the Airport named after the president’s father is difficult to imagine! Until now it’s not fixed..

      • Platypus09

        Maybe you should talk to the Pres to know his plans. Have you been updated? You don’t sound like it. There are plans but you cannot play magical games overnight.

        You don’t seem like you care anyway, either/ or.

      • Allan

         PLANS when its midway his term already…dont think so..

      • andresa igbac

         ano sabi mo allan? kaya pala di mo alam din anong nangyayari sa airport? hahah.

    • Yobhtron

      Mahirap umasenso lalo na kapag madami ang mga talangka sa Pinas.

      • kilawon

        problema sa mga baboy ayaw magpasabi kahit ang katotohan marumi talaga ang bansang pignas. YOBHtroN na immune na yata ang ilong mo sa amoy ng ihi ,pollution at burak sa syudad…typical kang penoy walang pakialam!

      • James Barrett

        Its true, the government should design a program of cleanliness like Singapore. They should also plan to build maybe the most beautiful airport terminal in Asia. Sa totoo lang po lumilitaw na tayong mga Pilipino sa boong Asia isa tayo sa mga pinakamaruruming ciudad at mga Paliparan at wala tayong malilinis na government owned toilets.

      • kilawon

        TRUE …..sinabi mo pa!

      • Xian

        this one I agree! NAIA Terminal 1 should be upgraded! Mas maganda pa ang Iloilo airport compared to Naia 1

      • andresa igbac

         eh di mag launch ka ng cleanliness campaign? wag lang basta comment. kahit sa barangay mo umpisahan? anong steps na ba ginawa mo?

      • kilawon


      • Popoy Pastoriza

        what did you even do to help our country? your negative mind won’t help the situation. instead of putting the Philippines down, why don’t you clean your mind and your surroundings first? it might help. Pagsure oi!

      • kilawon

        oh please! maybe you should get out of town sometimes and see why Philippines doesn’t get a lot of chunks of foreign visitors than  our neighboring  asian countries…..the fact is our major cities whether  manila or cebu is one ugly ,polluted and deteriorating cities….they share the same thing, bad infrastructure, that can hardly even compete with neighboring asian countries! …..buta ka ! ikaw diha ang pagsure !

      • Xian

        You know why we dont get the same chunk of visitors? It’s because of Filipinos like you who bad mouths the country to the international community! Look at Thailand, no matter how rotten their system and their government are, you’ll never hear a single Thai soul telling everyone what a disgusting country he has.. Same thing with Cambodia and Vietnam.. They all know when to shut up and do their share.. why not do the same?

      • kilawon

        i dont have to bad mouth this country! I let tourists judge for themselves…

  • Yobhtron

    Taas Pilipinas!

  • James Barrett

    Im a regular subscriber of Travel and Leisure Magazine and Conde Nast, for the past fifteen years these two major travel magazine always bypass the Philippines when they feature SouthEast Asia. I even send them E mails why they dont feature the Philippines and I never got any response from them.

    • andresa igbac

       so let’s be grateful they finally noticed.

  • ashizuri

    not for long.  the philipinos will find a way to screw it up.

    • andresa igbac

       hahah. what an ignorant comment. surely, you are not familiar or don’t know Filipinos. you can’t even spell the word correctly. or maybe you’re a Filipino pretending to be a foreigner and you’re not proud of your own race.

      • ashizuri

        yeah i’m a flip who grew up in the bay area, and i’m very familiar with the filipino race.  who in their right mind would be proud of the race.  just look at the country and the people.  #1 in corruption in asia. the capital is too polluted. more than half of the population is in poverty. their favorite past-time is drinking beer and hard liquor all day and all night. i can go on and on but i don’t wanna embarrass you.

      • kilawon

         TRUE ! spoken like a true filipino who cares for his country!

      • EOJ

         You are actually describing the USA.LOL!

        Oone of the leading pollutants of the planet, second only to china. 80% of americans are poor. And they kill school children like chickens.

      • ashizuri

        leading pollutants? 80% poor?  let’s see some sources!  the philippine govt can’t even provide for its citizens hundreds if not thousands of children die every year of diseases and hunger.

      • Yobhtron

        USA the most morally corrupt country in the world. USA is bankrupt and owes China trillions of dollars.  Nakarating ka lang sa Amerika diyan ay feeling mo Amerikano ka na.  Baka trabaho mo lang diyan ay janitor tapos second job mo ay security guard at third job mo ay grocery bagger. Ungas kang Pinoy ka.

      • ashizuri

        are u a monkey?  i’m not “feeling” like an american.   I am an AMERICAN.  loser.  have some banana monkey boy.

      • Xian

        IF you havent heard the news Ashizuri the Philippines is now on its feet and getting back on track.. Yes corruption is still there and will not be erradicated in just a few years.. Don’t brag that you lived in the US that’s why you now look down on the Philippines.. I was born in the US and I am perfectly in my right mind and I still say I am proud to be Filipino! The Philippines just like our beloved America has its good and bad side so why single out the Phils then? The capital is too polluted? Tell me, are there any Metropolis you know that has zero pollution? Do you know how our ancestors lived during the Spanish, Japanese, American and Martial Law eras? If you don’t well read the history, you’ll get the answer why half of the population is still below the poverty line..

        So please stop bragging that you now live or you grew up in the Bay area.. it wouldnt make YOUR race less than the others..

    • teraytaray

      really? let’s see. if we are to calculate the foreign debt of US and the Phils per citizen that would be USD16,000.00 for you, and the Filipinos? USD1,300.00

      • ashizuri

        where is the source, let’s see some real sources.  not something you cooked up in your head.  and just in case you’re dreaming here are some real numbers.  USA GDP per capita $49,900.  Philippines GDP per capita $4,200; 33% of the population living below poverty.  42% living under $2 per day.  18% under $1 per day.

  • Alex Etcuban

    We can improve our Transport links to make it easier for families with kids, old people,special needs, to travel to and fro our tourist spots. We can improve the safety of our taxi’s by rationalizing sevices. For example, limit to 3 taxi companies ,to foster safety and accountability. 

    • Xian

      I guess it’s better to have public transport (buses specially)  in Metro Manila centralized like the ones in Singapore. It will be more organized and will probably reduce traffic jams..

  • Jaime

    Dream on Philippines, I myself a Filipino will not visit a toilet conutry.

    • EOJ

       So glad you will not. Good riddance! A crab is the last thing we need in our midst.

      • teraytaray

        You just insulted a crab by calling “Jaime” one. He’s more like an empty can.

      • Jaime

        a realistic crab, not a blind walker like you guys.

    • Xian

      you should be ashamed of yourself! this is the reason why I stay away from Filipinos here abroad.. Nakatapak lang abroad now they think they’re better than everyone back home.. disgusting


    In any country, there will always be crabs and negativists.

    But more significantly, in any given country, the vast majority of the people are progressive-minded and optimists.

    No doubt, the Philippines’ time has come.

    God bless the Philippines.

    • kilawon

       ha! the vast majority of filipinos are idiots! and you wonder why we are still considered a third world country!

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