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Philippines: More than just the White Sands
Source: Manila Bulletin
Author: Vince G. Lopez
Date: 2010-01-23
Let me tell you about the birds, and dugongs, and everything in between.

British tourists have been coming into the country with more than just the beautiful beaches in mind. They are coming for the birds and dugongs.

“We are more than just a beach destination, and having maintained the number of UK tourists coming into the country is one of the indications that they are more informed about the Philippines,” expressed Richard de Villa, Information Technology Officer of the Department of Tourism in the United Kingdom With the recent arrival of the British and French tourists into the four islands of the country via the cruise ship MS Spirit of Adventure, they were all eager to discover the Philippines for the first time and see the beauty of the country first-hand. Among the islands the cruise ship visited were Cebu, Manila and San Fernando.

“When the tourists come to our office they are usually surprised to find out that we are made of 7,107 islands. Even more so to realize that each island offers a distinctive activity than the other which usually entices them to go,” added de Villa.

The UK market is usually composed of people from age 40 and above which explain their search for a more relaxed activity. This is the advantage of the Philippines compared to other destinations in the globe.

“We all know that we are experiencing a global economic crisis where tourism is also affected. But we are very proud of our numbers as we have maintained our share of the UK market. This is a very positive indication of our tourism status, comparing it to our neighboring countries that have dropped big numbers on their tourist arrival,” expounded de Villa.

Bird watching is one of the main reasons to the growing number of tourist arrivals in the country. But the interest of the UK tourist market is not limited to the pleasures of bird watching as some come for diving sites as well. There are also leisurely vacation getaway offers in Cebu and Davao which the UK market finds irresistible.

“We are very big on bird watching in the UK especially with the varied species of our endemic birds. One of our advantages is that these markets don’t easily get bored with what our country has to offer and they are the kind of tourists that prefer to stay longer,” said de Villa.

UK tourists have been learning about the Philippines through major tourism fairs where participants get the chance to learn more about the country and book instantly if they want. The internet has also contributed widely to the market’s interest on various destination and activities.

“With the arrival of numerous British and French tourists from the MS Spirit of Adventure, we hope to spread the good news about Philippine tourism through word of mouth. Sharing with their friends and relatives their experience during their stay in the country is a very effective way of enhancing more and more tourists to come to the Philippines,” concluded de Villa.

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