With its urban blight notwithstanding, Metro Manila is an intriguing and exciting tropical megalopolis for many Westerners.
As a proof, London-based Independent newspaper recently featured the megacity in a 48-hour swing for global travelers, and in 2014, it was named as among the world’s 10 Fastest-Emerging Global Cities by The World Post.
Add to this the fact that it recently hosted the 65th Miss Universe pageant after more than two decades, and acclaimed by organizer Paula Shugart as the best show she has mounted.
Tourism Secretary Wanda Corazon Teo led the recent Metro Manila Tourism Forum (MMTF) which tackled issues on the development of the national capital region as one of the world’s country’s top urban destination.
The two-day event was participated in by local tourism council officers, local government executives, and industry front-liners and featured presentations on the best attractions and tour packages in the metropolis.
Teo, who led the keynote speakers along with international resource persons, said there is a need for the metro’s cities to continue building up their advantages and capitalize these gains to promote the development of the country’s tourism industry.
She said that there is a need for the cities to capitalize on their similarities and uniqueness through market-sharing so they can offer diverse experiences to tourists.
The two-day confab is themed “ASEAN: Enhancing City Tourism Destinations towards Sustainable Development” in line with the United Nations World Tourism Organization’s (UNWTO) observance of the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.
She also noted the need for the cities to reinvent themselves to create distinctions that can attract markets, especially within the framework of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations integration.
She also said the need to take advantage of the opportunities to be created by the forthcoming opening of Manila as home port to the prestigious Star Cruises luxury liner which will take lifestyle travelers to Laoag, Kaoshiung in Taiwan and Hong Kong from March to May.
Other keynote speakers in the Forum included Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) immediate past president Gregory Duffell, Travel Impact Newswire executive editor Imtiaz Muqbil, Homestay Philippines, Inc. President Rose Libongco, and TravPax Solutions Pte Ltd. President Dror Maytal.
DoT-NCR Officer-in-Charge Cathy Agustin presented the highlights of Metro Manila’s tourism products which include cultural, leisure and entertainment, and Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions (MICE) tourism.
Representatives of city government tourism offices presented their attractions and tour packages.
A unique political entity composed of 16 cities and one municipality, Metro Manila is an eclectic blend of the old and the new with its colonial-era and modern central business districts.
Showcased were Quezon City’s Maginhawa Street as art and food hub, Banawe St. Chinatown, La Loma lechon colony, Sgt. Esguerra Ave. entertainment center; Diliman’s knowledge district; and Manila’s Old Manila districts such as Intramuros, Quiapo and Binondo.
Malabon presented its talked-about Tricycle Tours which combines history and culinary tradition, Makati its fine dining and retail lifestyle boutiques, Taguig its old town center and Bonifacio Global City, Pasay its convention centers, shopping malls and adjunct recreational amenities, and Pasig its urban rainforest and adventure park, Capitolio restaurant row and newly-restored revolving restaurant.
Las Piñas put the spotlight to its world-famous Bamboo Organ and its historical corridor, San Juan its 1896 Philippine Revolution trail and Greenhills bargain shopping spree, Mandaluyong the old and new facets of its city, and Pateros its traditional cottage industry, the production of the signature Pinoy delicacy balut.
Navotas is still the biggest source of seafood with its huge fishport, Valenzuela is harping on revitalized cultural heritage program, Caloocan City is the traditional “furniture capital”, Marikina is reclaiming its old glory as “shoe capital” and culinary destination in eastern metropolis, and Muntinlupa boasts of its lakeshore allure as a southern boomtown.
Organized by the Automobile Association Philippines (AAP) and co-organized by the Quezon City Government, the Forum is supported by the Department of Tourism, Tourism Promotions Board, Smart Corporation, Tourism Infrastructure Enterprise and Zone Authority, Philippine Airlines, Philippine Veterans Bank, and Petron.
Hosting next year’s MMTF is the City Government of Parañaque, which is home to bayside world-class tourist facilities such as Okada Manila, Solaire Resort and Casino, City of Dreams, Aseana City, and Resorts World Bayside.