Isla Lipana and Co., the Philippine member firm of PricewaterhouseCoopers, has spearheaded the search for the country’s next mainstream tourist destinations, a move seen to help the government achieve its target of having 10 million tourist arrivals by 2016.
Alexander B. Cabrera, incoming chairman and senior partner at Isla Lipana, explained that their corporate social responsibility project dubbed “Philippine Gems” is aimed at recognizing the so-called “second tier” or emerging destinations through online voting that opened Wednesday (June 26) and will close on Aug. 9 this year.
Emerging destinations are those areas that have the tourism potential but are yet to be recognized as a prospective vacation site by local and foreign tourists alike, due mainly to the lack of awareness of these locations.
The target, according to Cabrera, is to drum up interest for these prospective attractions not only to increase tourist arrivals, but to—more importantly—spur economic activities and development within the host communities.
The company believes that when individuals start to come in, business investments would follow.
“The increased awareness and appreciation of our country by our own citizens and the rest of the world will give it more prestige and attraction,” he further said.
Isla Lipana started with a list of 175 destinations culled from its employees and online travel bloggers, before trimming it to 50 sites. A screening committee then agreed on a shortlist of 25 destinations, from which online voters will choose the Top 10 “Philippine Gems.”
These 25 destinations include Apo Island; Apo Reef Natural Park; Batanes; Biri Island Rock Formation; Bucas Grande Island in Surigao del Norte; Busuanga and Coron in Palawan; Cagayan de Oro; Calaguas Islands in Camarines Norte; Camiguin; Camotes Islands in Cebu; Caramoan Islands; Danjuan Island in Negros Occidental; Donsol; Kapurpurawan Rock Formation in Ilocos Norte; and Lake Sebu.
Also included on the list are Mount Pulag; Mount Kanlaon; Mount Pinatubo; Pagudpud Beach in Ilocos Norte; Panglao Island in Bohol; Sagada; Siargao Island; Siquijor Island; Taytay in Palawan; and Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park.
The Philippine Gems project was done in partnership with the Philippine Tourism Promotions Board of the Department of Tourism and the University of the Philippines-Asian Institute of Tourism.