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

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.


Saudi tourism megaproject aims to turn the Red Sea green

Updated 20 October 2019

Saudi tourism megaproject aims to turn the Red Sea green

  • Development will protect endangered hawksbill turtle, while coral research could help save the Great Barrier Reef

RIYADH: Key ecological targets are driving Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea tourism megaproject, its leader has told Arab News.

The development will not only protect the habitat of the endangered hawksbill turtle, but could also save coral reefs that are dying elsewhere in the world, said Red Sea Development Company Chief Executive John Pagano.

The project is taking shape in a 28,000 square kilometer region of lagoons, archipelagos, canyons and volcanic geology between the small towns of Al-Wajh and Umluj on the Kingdom’s west coast.

One island, Al-Waqqadi, looked like the perfect tourism destination, but was discovered to be a breeding ground for the hawksbill. “In the end, we said we’re not going to develop it. It shows you can balance development and conservation,” Pagano said.

Scientists are also working to explain why the area’s coral reef system — fourth-largest in the world —  is thriving when others around the world are endangered.

“To the extent we solve that mystery, the ambition would be to export that to the rest of the world,” Pagano said. “Can we help save the Great Barrier Reef or the Caribbean coral that has been severely damaged?”

 

ALSO READ: INTERVIEW: Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea project to set ‘new global standards in sustainability’, says CEO