Palawan listed among world’s best tourist sites

Palawan has been selected by National Geographic Traveler’s magazine in its latest issue as one of the best tourist destinations in the world, the Department of Tourism (DOT) said on Wednesday.

The magazine described Palawan as “doing well” in a study published in its November-December 2007 issue.

The province is among 111 islands and archipelagos included in the fourth Destination Scorecard survey conducted by the National Geographic Center for Sustainable Destinations.

“Independent reviews by credible sources such as National Geographic are highly appreciated by the department as they show us how we are doing and in which areas we can improve,” said Tourism Secretary Joseph Ace Durano.

National Geographic Traveler Magazine is one of the publications produced by the National Geographic Society, one of the world’s most respected knowledge resources for earth science and technology.

The periodical has a following of around 12 million readers.

The National Geographic Center for Sustainable Destinations aims to protect the world’s distinctive tourist attractions through well-managed tourism and proper stewardship.

It is a founding partner of the United Nations World Tourism Organization’s Centre of Excellence for Destinations.

Assisted by George Washington University, National Geographic gathered a panel of 522 experts in ecology, sustainable tourism, geography, travel writing and photography, site management, historic preservation, indigenous cultures and archaeology to participate in the annual project.

The well-traveled group based their evaluations on six criteria that form the “integrity of place” or what makes the island destination unique.

The standards included environmental and ecological quality; social and cultural integrity; condition of historic buildings and archaeological sites; aesthetic appeal; quality of tourism management; and outlook for the future.

The chosen areas may fall in one of any four groups.

“Best Rated” islands are considered to be in excellent shape and are most likely to remain pristine in the coming years.

The “Doing Well” category is for places that are in relatively good shape but face minor problems.

Islands that are “In the Balance” have strong positive attributes but need to immediately address serious threats.

Destinations under the “In Trouble” list face severe exploitation, including excessive tourism.

Threat to Palawan

The judges listed Palawan under the “Doing Well” category, noting how the location is “blessed with incredibly beautiful seascapes and landscapes.” The magazine particularly recommends El Nido and the Calamianes Islands.

The review observed that while pollution poses a threat to the diverse and unique marine life surrounding the islands, conservation efforts have been improving in the recent months.

According to National Geographic Traveler Editor-in-Chief Keith Bellows, “This survey isn’t the final word on the travel health of the world’s islands. It’s a work in progress, a snapshot in time.”

Bellows stressed that the reviews are designed to highlight issues of stewardship, open them to public discussion and facilitate ways for improvement.

Among the best

Joining Palawan in the Doing Well category are other popular destinations around the world noted for its natural wonders and cultural sites.

These include Bora-Bora in French Polynesia, Corsica in France, Tasmania in Australia and Santa Catalina Island in California in the United States.

In his statement, Durano urged local government units and community leaders to protect and care for the tourist spots in their jurisdiction.

“Stewardship is crucial. Aside from showcasing our attractions, we also have to think well on how to uphold their natural, historical and cultural integrity. This will help us obtain the economic benefits of tourism in the long run,” he emphasized.

Natural wonders

Blessed with superb underwater views, pristine beaches and world-class accommodations, Palawan draws in thousands of divers, nature trekkers and beach fanatics from around the world.

The province is also home to the Tubbataha Reef Marine Park, an ecosystem made up of two atolls that lie on a line of extinct underwater volcanoes and is a sanctuary for rare marine species. The reef is a World Heritage Site of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco).

Aside from National Geographic, Palawan has also received praises from Conde Nast Traveler. In its Great Asian Beach Finder review, the pioneering American travel magazine voted the province’s beaches, coves and islets as the tourist destination with the Best Beaches Overall in Asia.

Likewise, the aquatic views offered by the sunken Japanese warships off Coron Island are listed in Forbes Traveler Magazine’s top 10 best scuba sites in the world.



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