Are you excited for the Philippine Travel Mart 2012? What can you not experience in Visayas’ largest tourism hub?
Department of Tourism (DoT) Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr. had been openly expressing enthusiasm for the region, lauding Central Visayas as an “area of inspiration” for tourism in the country. He had even been quoted as saying that the region is “a primary example of what we can do and what more can be done for other regions.”
Sumilon Island in Cebu will be featured in Philippine Travel Mart 2012
“Central Visayas or sometimes referred to as Central Philippines are among the most exciting regions for tourism in the country” says Cesar Cruz, President of the Philippine Tour Operators Association (PhilTOA) and Chairman of the 23rd Philippine Travel Mart 2012 (PTM). “The region offers some of the most diversified tour products: sports adventure, ecotours, heritage, culinary, folklore, and of course leisure and shopping. It’s like the whole Philippines all rolled into one.”
In the upcoming 23rd Philippine Travel Mart 2012 (PTM)—the longest running travel trade show in the country that will be held on 10-12 August at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City—special Philippine tour vacation packages will be up for grabs through Sale ng Bayan. Central Visayas which includes the island provinces of Bohol, Cebu, Negros Oriental, and Siquijor are among the major destinations to be offered. This year’s event is set to further boost the DoT’s campaign for sustainable domestic and inbound tourism.
“The region carries the distinction of being Visayas’ largest contributor to tourism”, stresses Cruz. “Looking at its diverse array of tour offerings, it’s quite easy to see why.”
A Marine Paradise
Composed of islands at the heart of the Philippine archipelago, it’s no wonder that central Visayas has no shortage of marine attractions, the most popular of which are Panglao Island in Bohol, and Antulang in Dumaguete. Boasting of white sand beaches that rival those found in Boracay, these two world-class beaches offer a more serene experience, making it perfect for honeymooners. The area is also dotted with dive sites, which studies show to have more biodiversity than Japan and the Mediterranean.
Speaking of diversity, a trip to central Visayas would not be complete without some form of interaction with Mother Nature’s bounty. Just south of Dumaguete lies Apo Island, which boasts of hundreds of coral types, and fish species—earning it recognition as one of the best dive sites in the world. Also, Oslob in Cebu recently gained national acclaim for its concentration of whale sharks, the largest known fish specie in the world.
For those who prefer to keep their feet dry, central Visayan topography also does not disappoint. The unique geography of the Chocolate Hills in Bohol alone is enough to keep one visually satiated. For a more intimate encounter, one may go to the Corella Tarsier Sanctuary, or have lunch while on a Loboc river cruise—both of which are also in Bohol.
If you fancy experiencing nature while having an adrenaline rush, there’s Danao Adventure Park, where one may appreciate nature while experiencing various degrees of intensity, ranging from cable-car-steady to bungee-jump-crazy.
Culture and Folklore
Central Visayas has quite a lot of history. Being among the first islands to be colonized by Spain, the region is a hotspot for colonial remnants, most notable of which are the handful of Spanish-era churches. In Dumaguete for example, the St. Catherine of Alexandria Cathedral in is well known for its majestic belfry, the oldest in the country. Baclayon Church in Bohol carries the distinction of being one of the oldest surviving stone churches in the country, second only to San Agustin in Manila. Dauis Church (also in Bohol) on the other hand is home to what people say is a miraculous well right in front of the altar, believed by many to have healing powers.
For a real dose of Mysticism though, one needs to drop by the Capilay Spring in Siquijor. While pools have been fashioned from the natural spring, one could still feel the energies that surround the place. Old folks still tell enchanted stories about the park’s mystic origins—given how unusually tranquil the balete-crowned place is, one would certainly feel why.
Promoting the Philippines
“With such a diverse offering of cultural and natural experiences, it is obvious why Secretary Jimenez chose Central Visayas to lead tourism in the Philippines” says Cruz. “Also, in as much as it’s the tip of our arrow, it’s also just the tip of the iceberg” he adds, citing the vast array of tourism packages that are up for sale on August 10-12.
The Philippine Travel Mart 2012 has been at the forefront of launching some of the latest tour programs in the country. With almost 250 exhibitors presenting their tour products through colorful pavilions and booths, the “Sale ng Bayan” will also launch the “Philippine Island Fun Caravan Getaways”—joint group tour programs that feature destinations all over the Philippines.
These 3-day to 6-day tours pool local, balikbayan, and foreign tourists together to avail of special packages that would’ve otherwise cost a lot of money if done individually. Featured tours include a Batanes-Cagayan northern escape, a Cordillera Cultural immersion for weekend warriors, an Eastern Visayas Heritage trail, and plenty more. Also not to be missed are the individual tour packages that have anywhere from 70 to 80% discounted prices and these packages will only be offered in Philippine Travel Mart 2012, such as “Kulinarya” (Binondo food trip for as low as Php648), “Health and Wellness” (Tagaytay Wellness trip for as low as Php2900), “Festivals” (Panagbenga trip for as low as Php5500), and many more.
Philippine Travel Mart 2012 will definitely convince you to visit Central Visayas this year. For more information, please visit www.philtoa.org