Philippines Tourism E-Newsletter - December 2012

It has truly been a spectacular year for Philippines tourism to say the least. The country is set for a record breaking year with arrivals set to breach the 4 million mark for the first time in history. The economy has grown by an exceptional 7.1 percent during the third quarter, the 2nd highest in Asia and the only country globally for which the IMF upgraded its growth forecast. More positive news have been written and published about the country in 2012 than in recent years, appearing in all media channels on the overall growth of the economy, tourism, business, investments and many more. The Philippines is clearly undergoing an era of renaissance.

The Philippines' presence in the UK this year has never been higher. With the launch of the It's More Fun in the Philippines campaign, mobile ads on the double-decker buses, taxicabs, and the underground rail stations and print ads in broadsheets and magazines have captured the attention of millions during key events during the year.

The dramatic increase in awareness for the destination has already seen immediate gains of roughly 8% increase in arrivals from January to October and is expected to grow much higher in the coming year.

The travel industry too has indeed taken notice. Airlines are adding more routes to the Philippines -- Cathay Pacific adding flights to Clark and Emirates adding more daily flights to the country. The number of UK tour operators are growing, especially those selling luxury holidays. There is also an increase in calls to Philippine ports by cruise lines - Silversea, Voyages of Discovery and Orion Expeditions.

This special 70th year-end issue is dedicated to the rapidly growing interest and positive travel news for everything Philippines in recent weeks including plaudits on BBC and CNN, new hotel brand openings and more airline routes among many more.

Lastly, we at the Philippines Department of Tourism (PDOT) London take this opportunity to greet you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!!

In this issue:

  Major Programs
  Package of the Month
  New Tourism Developments
  More Fun News


Major Programs


More Fun in the Philippines Adverts Up for the Tactical Winter Booking Period

PDOT has embarked on yet another aggressive outdoor advertising campaign during this winter period on the London transportation network on the Underground, taxis and buses as well as prestigious broadsheets.

On the London Underground, 26 sixteen-sheet cross track posters are now displayed on the busiest stations. The 2 memes, "The Underground. More Fun in the Philippines" and "Asking for Directions. More Fun in the Philippines" can be seen by travellers using the following stations: Bank, Bond Street, Covent Garden, Green Park, Holborn, Knightsbridge, Leicester Square, Oxford Circus, Piccadilly Circus and Tottenham Court Road. The posters will be seen by millions until early February 2013.

There are still 100 taxis carrying the "It's More Fun" adverts in the capital with 50 showing the festive faces of the Filipino people and the other half targeting those who opt for a Hong Kong or Singapore city break, with taglines such as ‘Paradise…only 2 ½ hours from Hong Kong. It’s More Fun in the Philippines’ and ‘Paradise…only 3 hours from Singapore. It’s More Fun in the Philippines’.

Additionally, around three double-decker buses are still plying routes around the city and can regularly be seen around Piccadilly and Haymarket.

On broadsheets, the PDOT has released a full-page spread advert on The Sunday Times travel section last 2 December viewed by approximately 2,525,000 in the UK.

These initiatives are aimed at generating awareness about the Fun in the Philippines are timed during the crucial winter months when UK holidaymakers traditionally book their trips for the coming year. The ads will also reach visitors spending their holidays in the capital.

View the photo gallery and send us your photos click here

More Positive Publicity for the Philippines

Adding to the remarkable publicity and awareness gained by the Philippines on the international media space, numerous travel features have been consistently appearing on leading travel trade, lifestyle and activity-based publications in the UK, Spain and Scandinavia recently.

For the travel trade, the Philippines ABTA Supplement is released with the December issue of the magazine circulated to 55,000 industry personnel. The 50-page supplement is the largest yet for the Philippines highlighting new properties, destinations and services.

Black Tomato, a UK luxury tour operator, lists Palawan among its top ten destination picks for travel in 2013

In Tatler Magazine UK's January issue, two luxury island destinations - Ariara Island in Palawan and Dedon Island is Siargao have been featured in its 2013 "must visit" travel section. The lifestyle magazine reaches over 87,000 affluent travellers who are poised to visit the country's growing luxury offerings.

In Spain, one of the top diving publications, Buceadores, features a lengthy 6-page article on Philippines diving titled "Filipinas, Un Buceo de otro mundo" with destinations Puerto Galera and Dumaguete featured.

Finland's popular travel publication, Mondo Magazine, published an impressive 8-page article featuring the whalesharks of Donsol and Legaspi's attractions.
For more info click here

Package of the Month


Island Life in the Philippines

Black Tomato is offering a multi-centred holiday to the Philippines with visits to Manila, Bohol and Palawan.

Look forward to discovering the UNESCO heritage worthy, Chocolate Hills in Bohol and perusing for one-of-a-kind trinkets at the Puerto Princesa market. Meeting Palawan’s indigenous Batak Tribe and take to the crystal clear waters of the Palawan Islands, and flop on some of the world’s best beaches.

Touch down in the bustling capital of Manila where you’ll be transferred amidst the hustle and bustle to a beautiful urban oasis; the Peninsula Hotel. Steeped in colonial grandeur it’s the perfect place to explore the teeming metropolis and get a feel for the spirit of the Philippines.

In Bohol, explore the aptly named Chocolate Hills, an impressive range of 1,268 hills that resemble the famous Hershey’s chocolate kisses during the dry season. Lunch will be served at the romantic Loboc River surrounded by tropical rain-forests. The island bolthole for the next two nights will be the Amorita Resort, nestled atop a seaside cliff with a 180 degree view of the Bohol Sea.

In true Black Tomato style, one will get to experience the landscape of Corella on the back of a motorbike, a region blessed with lush greenery, hills and secret waterfalls. There will also be personal encounters with the enigmatic Tarsiers in their natural habitat. Top this all with an island tour of Panglao and an early wake up call for a spot of whale and dolphin watching.

After the stint in Bohol, the next stop is the paradise of Palawan. The first day will be in the city of Puerto Princesa, where a bustling and vibrant town meets blissful nature. One will get to experience the Firefly tour in Iwahig River and the Puerto Princesa Underground River in Sabang, one of the New7Wonders of Nature. Accommodation will be at Hotel Centro in Puerto Princesa and Daluyon Resort at Sabang Beach.

Next on the itinerary is an encounter with the indigenous Batak mountain tribe who have been residing there for centuries. It is a terrific insight into authentic Filipino culture.

The last leg of the journey is Lagen Island in El Nido for a finale with a bang. Much has been written about the beauty and peacefulness of this place, where thatched hideaway accommodation is nestled between a lush four-hectare forest and a calm, shallow lagoon. Shrouded by looming limestone cliffs you can take the jungle by exploring the flora and fauna or simply relax on the beaches. A sublime end to your Philippines beach holiday.

For full tour inclusions and inquiry click here

New Tourism Developments


2 World-Class Hotel Brands open in Makati

Fairmont and Raffles

Two famous hotel brands – Fairmont and Raffles – simultaneously opened in Makati City, an event that is seen to boost the country’s tourism industry.

“Fairmont and Raffles are very significant brands, so we are proud that they are opened here in the Philippines simultaneously,” Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr. told reporters.

“These are famous, world-class brands and the fact that they are here says a lot about the present and future state of the Philippines,” he said.

Jimenez said the Philippines is ready to accept global hotel brands such as Fairmont and Raffles.

“I think with the energy you see from the (hotel) staff, someday we can make these brands our own in terms of pride and the quality of service,” Jimenez said.

Jimenez also said the tourism department is likely to achieve its target of four million tourist arrivals this year.

“We are on track. I hope the weather cooperates. We are on track to cross four million tourists this year, that’s for sure,” Jimenez said.
For more info click here

Emirates Increases Flights to the Philippines, South East Asia

Emirates is increasing its services to three of its destinations in South East Asia, the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia. From 3rd December 2012, there will be an increase in the number of flights on the Dubai to Kuala Lumpur route from three daily to 25 a week, increasing to 26 a week from 6th February 2013. Starting 1st January 2013, Emirates will introduce a third daily, non-stop flight to Manila; with a third daily, non-stop service beginning on 1st March 2013 to Jakarta.

“Due to the strong demand we are experiencing, Emirates has added much-needed seat capacity on its flights to Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur and Manila,” said Salem Obaidalla, Emirates’ Senior Vice President, Commercial Operations Far East & Australia. “The extra daily flights will increase capacity on the Jakarta and Manila routes by 50% and I would like to thank the relevant authorities in the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia for their support.

“Emirates began services to the Philippines in 1990, Indonesia in 1992 and Kuala Lumpur in 1996, and since then we have continued to focus on our commitment to these markets and also ensuring that we offer our passengers the best on-board product, including our award-winning ‘ice’, offering 1,400 channels of on-demand entertainment – the largest selection of programming in the sky.”

The third daily service to Manila will be operated by one of Emirates’ Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, in the same two-class configuration, 42 Business Class lie-flat seats and 386 Economy Class seats, as the current double-daily service. The new service EK336 departs Dubai at 18.30 arriving in Manila at 06.30 the following day. The return flight, EK337, departs Manila at 08.45 arriving in Dubai at 13.45, in time to connect to the afternoon departures to Europe.

Read More click here

More Fun News


Puerto Princesa Underground River now one of world’s protected wetlands

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY—The city’s famed subterranean River National Park was installed Tuesday as one of the world’s protected areas of biodiversity under the Ramsar Convention, an international treaty aimed at conserving wetlands.

At installation rites Tuesday, Mayor Edward Hagedorn was excited about the province’s tourism prospects, saying Puerto Princesa had already overtaken popular resort island Boracay in terms of visitors this year. But he added that in line with the city’s commitment’s under the convention, he would have to limit visitors to the underground river to 900 a day.

The Puerto Princesa Subterranean National River Park (PPSNRP) is the 2,084th Ramsar site in the world and is the fifth among the wetlands of international importance in the country. The four other sites are: the Naujan Lake National Park in Mindoro; the Agusan Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary in Mindanao; the Olango Island in Cebu; and the Tubbataha Reef National Marine Park, also in Palawan.
For more info click here

The Philippines: The world's budget English teacher

The Philippines is fast becoming the world's low-cost English language teacher - with rapid increases in overseas students coming to learn English or study in English-speaking universities.

There might be other countries that people think about as a classic place to learn English, such as the UK, the US or Australia.

But there is one key reason that they are switching to the Philippines. It's much cheaper. And in the competitive market for language students, it means the Philippines is attracting people from countries such as Iran, Libya, Brazil and Russia.

Filipinos speak with a clear American accent - partly because the Philippines was a US colony for five decades, and partly because so many people here have spent time working in call centres that cater to a US market.

"It's a good experience, as it's a different style of life than I'd get in Europe. It's interesting to learn the culture. I like to travel here, and go to the beaches and museums," says Elizaveta Leghkaya, a Russian engineering student.

Read More click here

The Philippines shows the world how to celebrate Christmas

Where would you find the most Christmas spirit in the world? It's hard to say for certain, but if a global competition were to be held, the Philippines would have an excellent shot at winning.

The southeast Asian island nation has the world's longest festive season -- and pulls no punches in its celebratory zeal for the period, with lavish light displays, masses, and festivals held throughout the country from September until January.

One of the most populous nations in Asia, the Philippines is an overwhelmingly Christian nation. Approximately 90% of Filipinos are Christian and 80% of these are Catholic, an influence gleaned from the country's period as a Spanish colony from the sixteenth century until the end of the nineteenth.

As a result, while many countries concentrate on the commercial side of Christmas, Filipinos attend several masses throughout the Christmas season and faith forms an intrinsic part of celebrations.
A traditionally Filipino event is Simbang Gabi, a series of masses held over nine nights culminating in Christmas Eve. It is believed that if you make a wish after completing the nine masses, it will come true.

As early as September, when the dark nights come, it is not unusual to see a series of spectacular Christmas displays popping up in malls, parks and open spaces across the country.
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