(L-R) AirAsia Zest chief executive officer Joy Cañeba, Palawan governor Jose Alvarez and Palawan Tourism Council president Deborah Tan pose for a photo with cabin crew after signing a memorandum of agreement for the “World’s Best Island” campaign in Puerto Princesa last March 4. Photo: Handout
PUERTO PRINCESA – A new tourism campaign by Palawan gives locals and foreigners more reasons to visit the province, which has been voted as the “best island in the world” by the readers of the travel magazine Conde Nast Traveller last year.
The “World’s Best Island” campaign, an initiative by the Palawan government, the non-profit Palawan Tourism Council, the Department of Tourism and low-cost carrier AirAsia Zest, hopes to bring in around two million visitors to the province this year — more than double the number recorded in 2014.
“This is public-private partnership in action, where all the stakeholders share a common goal in increasing tourist arrivals in Palawan,” said Palawan governor Jose “Pepito” Alvarez during the launch of the campaign, which is supported by the United States Agency for International Development or USAID under its Advancing Philippine Competitiveness project.
He added that the partnership is “a good example of unity and strong collaboration among all the major players in tourism” that every province should adopt as part of its tourism efforts.
Palawan Tourism Council president Deborah Tan said their member travel agents, hotels and resorts are set to offer bargain tour packages together with discounted fares to Puerto Princesa from AirAsia Zest.
Familiarization tours will also be held for members of the media and bloggers so they can help spread the word about the province, she added.
In May, a travel fair will be held at Eastwood Mall in Quezon City as part of the year-long campaign.
“Palawan as ‘best island’ is actually a misnomer,” Tan said, smiling. “This is because Palawan is composed of 1,700 islands, and each offers a unique experience. Of course, most of the islands have swimming and snorkeling, exotic flora and fauna, and wonderful waterfalls.”
“We are targeting two million tourist arrivals by 2015 for Palawan,” she added. “The memorandum of agreement is only the start of the uphill climb to make Palawan a top-of-mind destination.”
Tan went on to say that there is more to Palawan than its stunning beaches and limestone cliffs.
“There is more to discover in the islands. We have our culturally rich tribes and other historical gems,” she said, noting that the promotion of these areas will also be part of the “World’s Best Island” project.
For her part, AirAsia Zest chief executive officer Joy Cañeba said their goal is “to allow more people to travel – not just tourists or foreigners coming to the Philippines but also domestic visitors – to be able to experience Palawan.”
AirAsia Zest will increase flights to its Manila-Puerto Princesa route to five times daily starting March 29, offering base fares from P1,099 to guests traveling until June 10.
Puerto Princesa is home to the Puerto Princesa Underground River, which was inaugurated as one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature in 2012.
Aside from the “world’s best island” tag from Conde Nast Traveller, Palawan has also been referred to as “the most beautiful island in the world” by the popular news and opinion website The Huffington Post.
Two years ago, Lonely Planet included Palawan as one of the “best value travel destinations” for 2014.
El Nido, which is a four-hour drive from Puerto Princesa, was used as a shooting location for the Hollywood film “The Bourne Legacy” starting Jeremy Renner and Rachel Weisz in 2012.
Read more: http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/lifestyle/03/11/15/expect-more-visitors-palawan-2015