Krusada: Choose Philippines

Posted at 01/14/2012 10:13 AM | Updated as of 01/25/2012 6:23 PM

Anchor: Charie Villa

One week after the formal launch of Department of Tourism’s new campaign, “It’s more fun in the Philippines”, Charie Villa returns to television to support DOT through Choose Philippines, a travel website that crusades to uplift the lives of Filipinos via tourism and its benefits.

One week after the formal launch of Department of Tourism’s new campaign, “It’s more fun in the Philippines”, Charie Villa returns to television to support Philippine tourism through Choose Philippines, an ABS-CBN Regional Network group initiative.

Her team created a travel website, www.choosephils.com, to help travelers make the right choices and to present their contributors with an audience of their own as they share their discoveries around the Philippines.

Choose Philippines team watching the sunset at the Laoag Sand Dunes

Choose Philippines is an altruistic effort to uplift the lives of Filipinos via tourism and its benefits. The country’s environment and human potentials are deemed limitless. It is more than just a website—it is a community.

What Ilocos Norte offers

For the first leg of Charie Villa’s Krusada on tourism, the team chose to travel to Ilocos Norte, the self-proclaimed ‘True North’ of the country. True enough, it is located on the northernmost edge of western Luzon.

Other than having white sandy beaches, sand dunes and rock formations, Ilocos Norte also boasts of notable lighthouse and churches reminiscent of Spanish Architecture. Delectable food and extravagant festivals are aplenty. Indeed, traveling to Ilocos Norte is perfect for history lovers as well as foodies.

Anchor Charie Villa tries out the popular all-terrain vehicle offered by the hotel

Government officials are currently developing more family-based, eco-based and adventure tourism. The province has started to veer away from casino entertainment. While Ilocanos are currently developing their lands to attract more tourists, the local government has agreed to remain rural green.

Identifying the ‘beautiful’ problems

After interviewing the mayors of Burgos, Bangui and Adams, Charie Villa sat down with Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos to discuss the problems encountered by the local government in developing sustainable tourism.

She said that their biggest problem surfaced after the Manila hostage crisis. They lost 100% of their Chinese tourists despite the province’s distance from the Quirino Grandstand.

“Our only problem in the North, is our tourism is never pegged on Manila. Never has been. Nor is it pegged on the Philippines. It’s really pegged on China”, she explains.

Gov. Marcos admits that domestic tourism was never cultivated because they have always had the Chinese market at their doorstep. Now that they have lost their largest market, they are now starting to evaluate their tourism programs and think of new ways to draw in tourists—both foreign and local.

They are presently drumming up a campaign called ‘Paoay Kumakaway’ for national tourism. With the burgeoning of budget airlines on domestic routes, this is seen as an opportunity to boost the interest city dwellers to visit Ilocos Norte.

Ilocanos practicing their dance routine outside the Paoay Church

As part of tourism development, Gov. Marcos encourages balikbayans to invest in more businesses rather than building ‘Barbie wedding cake houses’ as seen in Bacarra.

They have also identified the need to improve their amenities and to provide ‘mod-cons’ that have become essential for both foreign and local tourists. Convincing banks to set up Automated Teller Machines (ATM) in the area are also underway.

Above everything else, Gov. Marcos is pushing for the construction of tollways, highways and skyways as Ilocos Norte is reachable by land and many tourists prefer driving than flying to the province.

What to watch out for

Gov. Imee deliberates that heritage tourism has already lost its allure. So other than ‘Paoay Kumakaway’, they added a gimmick called ‘Midnight at the Oasis’. After sand boarding and riding 4x4 trucks, fire dancers and belly dancers will come out to entertain.

January 12, 2012