Tourism is an important sector for Philippine economy. In 2015, the travel and tourism industry contributed 10.6% to the country's GDP. Philippines is an archipelagic country composed of 7,641 islands with 82 provinces divided in 18 regions. The country is known for having its rich biodiversity as its main tourist attraction. Its beaches, mountains, rainforests, islands and diving spots are among the country's most popular tourist destinations. The country's rich historical and cultural heritage are also one of the attractions of Philippines. Popular destinations among tourists are El Nido in Palawan, Davao, Boracay, Siargao, Cebu, Manila and many more.
As of 2015, 4.99 million Filipinos have been employed in the tourism sector and the government collected P227.62 billion pesos from foreign tourists. The country attracted a total of 5,360,682 foreign visitors in 2015.
Tourism makes an important part to the economy of the country. The growth of the economy had been into a major change since the end of the People Power Revolution up until to the present time because of the tourism growth.
In 2000, the Philippines' tourist arrivals totaled 2.2 million. In 2003, it totaled 2,838,000, a growth of almost 29%, and was expected to grow as much as 3.4 million in 2007. In the first quarter of 2007, the tourist arrival in the Philippines grew as much as 20% in same period last year. In 2011, the Department of Tourism recorded 3.9 million tourists visiting the country, 11.2 percent higher than the 3.5 million registered in 2010.
In 2012, the Philippines recorded 4.27 million tourist arrivals, after the Department of Tourism launched a widely publicized tourism marketing campaign entitled "It's More Fun In the Philippines".
The tourism industry employed 3.8 million Filipinos, or 10.2 per cent of national employment in 2011, according to data gathered by the National Statistical Coordination Board. In a greater thrust by the Aquino administration to pump billion[clarification needed] to employ 7.4 million people by 2016, or about 18.8 per cent of the total workforce, contributing 8 per cent to 9 per cent to the nation's GDP.
The official heritage properties of the Philippines are listed under the National Government's Philippine Registry of Cultural Property (PRECUP), Pinagmulan: Enumeration from the Philippine Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage, and the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS). Properties registered among those lists are heralded as possible nominations to the UNESCOWorld Heritage List, where at least 16 declarations containing 19 properties have been recognized by UNESCO through its 4 different lists (UNESCO World Heritage List, UNESCO Memory of the World Register, UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List, and UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Registry).
Tourism in the Philippines traces its origins during the ancient times when the first set of people chose to migrate through land bridges, followed by the other sets of migrations from the Malayan archipelago in the south and Taiwan in the north. Through time, numerous ethno-linguistic groups developed, until some of they became monarchies, plutocracies, hunter-gatherers, city-states, and so on. Trade also became part of the tourism as Arabs, Indians, Japanese, Chinese, Malays, and other ethnic groups in mainland Southeast Asia, Taiwan, and Ryukyu traded goods to the natives. When the islands became part of the territory of Spain, an influx of Spanish people migrated, (though still few compared to the ones migrated in South America due to distance of the country.)
The tourism industry first flourished during the late 19th to early 20th century due to the influx of immigrants from Europe and the United States. It was listed as one of the best country to visit in Asia aside from Hong Kong and Japan, earning the nickname "Pearl of the Orient Seas". The tourism declined during and after the World War II, leaving the country with a completely devastated economy, and a landscape filled with destroyed heritage towns. The second wave of tourist influx flourished in the 1950s but declined drastically during the dictatorship era. After the People Power Revolution, the tourism industry continued to decline due to the domino effect caused by the dictatorship. The industry only managed to cope in 1991 and 1992, where 1.2 million tourists visited the Philippines. It afterwards waned again after a decade of corrupt practices in government.
Today, the tourism industry boomed again at the early part of the 2010s after the decline in the previous decade. The It's More Fun in the Philippines slogan was widely regarded as an international success. The country saw an influx of tourists from all over the world, with the help of social media and the creative tagline, the tourism went at its peak with having 3,590,038 million tourists recorded from January to August 2015.
Country Visitor statistics
Immovable Tangible Heritage
The Philippines has at least 144 distinct ethno-linguistic groups (all are classified as Filipinos, both mainstream and indigenous, by the government), each having their own distinct cultures. Each region of the Philippines has different traditions, honed and conserved by numerous ethnic groups distinct from each other. Currently, there are six UNESCO World Heritage Sites scattered in nine different locations (Vigan, Santa Maria Church, Paoay Church, San Agustin Church, Miagao Church, Rice Terraces of the Cordilleras, Tubbataha Reefs, Underground River of Puerto Princesa, and Mount Hamiguitan), two UNESCO World Heritage Cities (Vigan and Miagao), one UNESCO Creative City (Baguio), three UNESCO Biosphere Reserves (Palawan, Albay, and Puerto Galera), and eight ASEAN Heritage Parks (Mount Apo, Mounts Iglit-Baco, Mount kitanglad, Mount Makiling, Tubbataha Reefs, Mount Hamiguitan, and Timpoong-Hibok-Hibok) in the Philippines. The following are the most significant natural and cultural heritage sites of the Philippines:
|Ilocandia (Ilocos-Pangasinan)||Churches of Ilocandia (includes Paoay Church, UNESCO World Heritage Site and Santa Maria Church, UNESCO World Heritage Site) • Vigan, UNESCO World Heritage Site • Bolinao • Heritage Railways and Stations of Luzon • Spanish Colonial Fortifications of the Philippines • Laoag|
|Cordillera||Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras, UNESCO World Heritage Site • Churches of Cordillera • Kabayan Mummy Burial Caves • Alab Petroglyphs • Mount Pulag • Baguio City, UNESCO Creative City • Lubuagan • Kiangan • Sagada|
|Cagayan Valley||Churches of Cagayan Valley (including Tumauini Church) • Batanes • Lal-lo and Gattaran Shell Middens • Sierra Madre Range • Penablanca Petrographs • Paleolithic Archaeological Sites in Cagayan Valley (including Awidon Mesa Formation and Callao Limestone Formation) • Kalipung-awan (Philippine) Rise|
|Central Luzon||Malolos • Baler • Churches of Central Luzon • Mount Pinatubo • Sierra Madre Range • Zambales Mountains • Heritage Railways and Stations of Luzon • San Fernando • Spanish Colonial Fortifications of the Philippines • Bataan Monuments on World War II • Pampanga Sugar Central Sites • Historic Rice Plantations of Tarlac (including Hacienda Luisita) • Kalipung-awan (Philippine) Rise • Candaba Swamp • Subic • Angeles City|
|Manila||Churches of Manila (including San Agustin Church, UNESCO World Heritage Site, Tondo Church, Binondo Church, Quiapo Church, San Sebastian Church, Malate Church, Santa Ana Church, and Ermita Church) • Intramuros • Rizal Park (including the National Museum of the Philippines, Rizal Monument, and the National Library of the Philippines) • University of Santo Tomas • Heritage Railways and Stations of Luzon • Spanish Colonial Fortifications of the Philippines • National Monuments of Manila (including the People Power Monument)|
|Calabarzon (Katagalugan)||Taal • Churches of Calabarzon • Kawit • Sariaya • Tayabas • Sierra Madre Range • Angono Petroglyphs • Limestone tombs of Kamhantik • Mount Makiling, ASEAN Heritage Park • Heritage Railways and Stations of Luzon • Mount Banahaw • Spanish Colonial Fortifications of the Philippines • Corregidor • Kalipung-awan (Philippine) Rise • Pagsanjan Falls|
|Bicolandia (Ibalon)||Mayon Volcano • Ticao Island Cultural Landscape • Churches of Bicolandia (including Daraga Church) • Mount Isarog • Whale-shark Congregation Areas in the Philippines (including Donsol) • Heritage Railways and Stations of Luzon • Spanish Colonial Fortifications of the Philippines • Kalipung-awan (Philippine) Rise • Philippine Trench|
|Mimaropa (Palawan-Mindoro)||Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, UNESCO World Heritage Site • Tubbataha Reef, UNESCO World Heritage Site • Apo Reef • Coron Island • Singnapan Cave Petrographs • Churches of Mimaropa • Mounts Iglit-Baco National Park, ASEAN Heritage Park • Mount Mantalingajan • Cuyo Archipelago • Tabon Caves • Sibuyan Island • Romblon • Kalayaan • Spanish Colonial Fortifications of the Philippines • Boac • Culion|
|Western Visayas (Madja-as)||Churches of Madja-as (including Miagao Church, UNESCO World Heritage Site) • Iloilo City • Negros Sugar Central Sites • Bacolod • Central Panay Mountain Range (including the Panay-Bukidnon Rice Terraces of Antique) • Heritage Railways and Stations of Negros • Heritage Railways and Stations of Panay • Boracay • Spanish Colonial Fortifications of the Philippines • Historic Mango Plantations of Guimaras • Silay • Victorias|
|Central Visayas (Sugbu)||Churches of Sebwandia (including Loboc Church, Boljoon Church, and Lazi Church) • Chocolate Hills • Dumaguete • Early Philippine-Spanish Contact Sites (including Mactan and Poro Island • Anda Petrographs • Negros Sugar Central Sites • Carcar • Whale-shark Congregation Areas in the Philippines (including Oslob) • Heritage Railways and Stations of Cebu • Heritage Railways and Stations of Negros • Spanish Colonial Fortifications of the Philippines • Bantayan Island • Panglao • Argao|
|Eastern Visayas (Waray-Sebwano)||Churches of Samar-Leyte (including Guiuan Church) • Early Philippine-Spanish Contact Sites (including Homonhon and Limasawa) • Capul • Sohotan (Samar) Natural Park • Langun-Gobingob Caves • Spanish Colonial Fortifications of the Philippines • Leyte Gulf • Biri Larosa Protected Landscape and Seascape • Biliran • Maripipi • Philippine Trench|
|Zamboanga||Zamboanga City • Churches of Western Mindanao • Mosques of Mindanao (including Taluksangay Mosque) • Dapitan • Spanish Colonial Fortifications of the Philippines • Dipolog • Pagadian|
|Northern Mindanao||Camiguin (including Timpoong and Hibok-Hibok Natural Monument, ASEAN Heritage Park) • Churches of Western Mindanao • Mosques of Mindanao • Mount Malindang, ASEAN Heritage Park • Kitanglad Mountain Range, ASEAN Heritage Park • Spanish Colonial Fortifications of the Philippines • Historic Pineapple Plantation of Bukidnon • Jimenez • Ozamiz • Jasaan • Balingasag • Iligan • Maria Cristina Falls|
|Caraga (Butuan)||Butuan Archaeological Sites • Churches of Western Mindanao • Agusan Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary • Dinagat Islands • Hinatuan Sacred River • Siargao • Tinuy-an Falls • Philippine Trench|
|Davao||Mount Hamiguitan, UNESCO World Heritage Site • Churches of Eastern Mindanao (including San Salvador del Mundo Church) • Mosques of Mindanao • Mount Apo, ASEAN Heritage Park • Samal • Pujada Bay • Philippine Trench|
|Soccsksargen (Cotabato)||Maitum Archaeological Site • Allah Valley Cultural Landscape (including Lake Sebu) • Churches of Eastern Mindanao • Mosques of Mindanao • Glan • Mount Apo, ASEAN Heritage Park • Spanish Colonial Fortifications of the Philippines • Asik-asik Falls • Liguasan Marsh|
|Bangsamoro (Sulu, Maguindanao, Lanao)||Torogans Royal Abodes of Lanao • Mosques of Mindanao (including Masjid Dimaukom, Sheik Karimol Makhdum Mosque, and Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Masjid) • Tugaya • Lake Lanao • Sibutu-Sitangkai • Bongao • Turtle Islands Wildlife Sanctuary • Royal Tombs of Bangsamoro • Marawi • Liguasan Marsh • Spanish Colonial Fortifications of the Philippines|
Movable Tangible Heritage
The Philippines possesses numerous significant movable tangible heritage, both in cultural and natural terms. Many of which have been declared as national treasures and are highly protected by the law. The country also has four documentary heritage inscribed in the UNESCO Memory of the World Register, namely, the José Maceda Collection, Philippine Paleographs (Hanunoo, Buid, Tagbanua, and Pala’wan), Presidential Papers of Manuel L. Quezon, and Radio Broadcast of the Philippine People Power Revolution. The following are select movable tangible heritage figures in the Philippines.
The Philippine eagle, national bird of the Philippines and largest in the world by wing span
Waling-waling, an iconic Philippine orchid most prized in the country
Manunggul Jar, a pre-colonial depiction of one's journey to the afterlife
The Philippines is the focal point of the world's whale shark migration
The Philippines is widely regarded as the traditional capital of the world's festivities due to the thousands of festivals occurring in the country annually. Festivals differentiate in the national level, regional level, provincial level, municipal (town) level, city level, and barangay (village) level. The country, having at least 144 distinct ethno-linguistic groups, has a wide range of intangible cultural heritage, ranging from oral traditions and expressions, performing arts, social practices such as rituals and festive events, knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe, to traditional craftsmanship. The country currently possesses at least three UNESCOintangible cultural heritage elements, one of which, the Hudhud Epic Chants of the Ifugao, was declared by UNESCO as one of the eleven great traditions of humanity. The other two elements inscribed by UNESCO are the Darangen Chant of the Maranao people of Lake Lanao and the Punnuk tug-of-war Game of the Ifugao. The following elements are select intangible heritage of the Philippines:
San Agustin Church in Manila, UNESCO World Heritage Site
Santa Maria Church, UNESCO World Heritage Site
Paoay Church, UNESCO World Heritage Site
Miagao Church, UNESCO World Heritage Site
Ifugao Rice Terraces in Batad, UNESCO World Heritage Site
Heritage City of Vigan, UNESCO World Heritage Site
Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, UNESCO World Heritage Site
Mount Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary, UNESCO World Heritage Site
Daily Life in Mindanao
Photo Essay by Bobby Timonera
Mindanao in southern Philippines is populated mainly by three groups of people – the Lumads, the tribal people who first inhabited the place but who are now a minority; the Muslim groups; and the Christians who came mostly from the northern part of the country who now comprise the majority.
The mixture of these three peoples has somehow created tension, like the formation of Muslim armed groups that have waged rebellion since the 1970s. But there’s a continuing effort to bring about peace and harmony, the latest of which was the signing last year of the Framework Agremeent on the Bangsamoro between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
Meantime, the island’s tourism potentials, despite a number of scenic spots, couldn’t be maximized because of the threats as embassies of many countries regularly issue travel advisories telling its residents to avoid going to Mindanao.
The island is blessed with natural resources so rich that it contributes a lot to the national economy, yet its people complaining it gets little from the national government’s budget.
Tourists flock to Camiguin Island for its white beaches and volcanoes. The big cross is the marker for the Sunken Cemetery off the municipality of Catarman, which was buried in water after a volcanic eruption in the 1870s.
Mindanao is predominantly Catholic. Here they join religious rites during the Holy Week at the Monastery of the Transfiguration in Malaybalay, Bukidnon.
A tribal boy joins in the festivities during the Kaamulan Festival in Malaybalay City, Bukidnon. The highland province is known for its seven ethnic tribes.
A Muslim father and child share a tender moment outside a mosque in the Islamic City of Marawi in Lanao del Sur province.
This long strip of white sand in Patikul, Sulu is called Quezon Beach by locals because former President Manuel L. Quezon once swam here. Unfortunately, this place could not be a tourist destination because of violence that often erupts there.
Canning tuna in General Santos City, dubbed the “Tuna Capital of the Philippines.”
All photos: Bobby Timonera
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