Philippines breaks tourism record in 2018

The Philippines is a archipelago made up of more than 7,000 islands. (File/AFP)
Updated 24 January 2019
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Philippines breaks tourism record in 2018

  • The country saw the number of visitors jump by nearly eight percent over the previous year
  • “The country’s top sun-and-beach destination has evidently become a blessing in disguise,” said Philippine tourism secretary

MANILA: The Philippines welcomed a record 7.1 million tourists to its beaches and dive spots in 2018, despite its most famous resort Boracay being shut half the year to recover, authorities said Thursday.
The archipelago nation of over 7,000 islands saw the number of visitors jump by nearly eight percent over the previous year, with South Koreans leading the way as its top tourists.
This growth came without much help from Boracay, which was closed for clean up from April to October after President Rodrigo Duterte branded it a “cesspool” fouled by reckless development.
Before the closure, the tiny island’s white sand beaches and turquoise waters were seeing some two million sun worshippers a year.
“The challenging act of closing down Boracay... the country’s top sun-and-beach destination has evidently become a blessing in disguise,” said Philippine tourism secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat.
Other spots like natural paradise Palawan and beach destination Siargao island saw a jump in foreign tourists during the closure.
While South Korean led the pack with 1.6 million tourists, Chinese arrivals jumped by nearly 30 percent over 2017 to hit 1.3 million, the department of tourism said.
Americans visitors to the former US colony were at one million.


Malaysia welcomes its first durian-friendly hotel

An overview of the Durian Research Center. (AN photo)
Updated 16 July 2019
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Malaysia welcomes its first durian-friendly hotel

  • Tan sees the resort’s agritourism ecosystem as a long-term goal toward creating a platform for durian research and cultivation

KUALA LUMPUR: Durians are known for their distinct, pungent smell, which many foreigners describe as a combination of rotten onions and old socks. As such, most hotels in Asia forbid the fruit on their premises.
But with the rising popularity of durians among locals and foreign tourists, Malaysia is welcoming its first durian-friendly hotel and resort.
Situated an hour from Kuala Lumpur’s city center, the beautiful, scenic Bangi Golf Resort includes a hotel overlooking a golf course, and an agriculture farm.
“When you first go into any hotels, you usually see the signs ‘durian is not allowed’ or ‘durian is forbidden’,” said Tan Ban Keat, director of the resort. “We soften the tone for the hotel to be ‘durians are allowed in durian-friendly zones’.”
Hotel patrons can buy, eat and bring durians to designated zones throughout the resort.
“We’re actually the first hotel to practice that,” said Tan, adding that he does not believe the move will prompt other hotels in Malaysia to follow suit.
“It doesn’t do anything to their business. We do it because we grow durians on the premises. We have the annual durian festival … and we’ll include the Durian Research Center in the near future,” he said.

FASTFACT

Musang Kings are considered premium durians due to their intense yet well-balanced, custardy sweet taste. They are the premier durians for export to China and other overseas markets.

Tan expressed his hope that the center, which is under construction, will become a premier research hub for better durian breeds.
“I hope to create a Super Musang King,” he said. Musang Kings are considered premium durians due to their intense yet well-balanced, custardy sweet taste. They are the premier durians for export to China and other overseas markets.
Tan sees the resort’s agritourism ecosystem as a long-term goal toward creating a platform for durian research and cultivation.
“These durian-friendly zones are created to be a platform for agriculture. Durians have a place in many people’s hearts. They’re a national treasure,” he added.