The Department of Tourism is eyeing Samar province as an alternative to Boracay as the island undergoes environmental rehabilitation.
Speaking at the Spark Samar Travel Fair 2018 on Sunday (March 11), DOT Undersecretary Kat De Castro said Samar tourist spots were on the list as priority sites for promotions.
“Secretary Teo instructed me to look for alternative less known sites while rehabilitating Boracay. DOT will be more aggressive in promoting Samar and ensure that natural resources are well-taken care of,” she said.
She also recalled how she helped promote Samar to tourists back on a TV travel show back in 2011.
“I found out that people in Samar are nice and they embraced us with open arms. With this, we are looking forward to increasing the number of visitors in Samar and its further development. It’s time for Samar to show the world why it’s more fun in the Philippines.”
In a statement, DOT said the multi-department group overseeing the ongoing shake-up of non-compliant establishments to environmental laws is proposing a two-month closure of Boracay.
Samar Governor Sharee Ann Tan welcomed the pronouncement of DOT as the local government sees tourism as the main economic growth driver in a province known for natural disasters and conflict.
“We are ready to welcome tourist after years of empowering, engaging and equipping our communities with skills needed to fortify the province’s community-based tourism initiatives,” Tan said.
Since the introduction of Spark tourism campaign, tourist arrivals grew from 118,018 in 2013 to 207,709 in 2016. The governor is eyeing 298,000 tourists to Samar by 2019 or 2020.
The island’s provincial government has recommended four tourist-ready sites that are easily accessible.
First on the list is the Sohoton Natural Bridge National Park where the country’s largest cave system can be found.
A 15-minute kayak journey upstream will take tourists through limestone cliffs and other rock formations around the river banks.
The Ulot River in Paranas town is where a Torpedo Boat Extreme Ride can be experienced, with tourists riding a uniquely-designed boat that barrels through rapids.
The Marabut rock formations are also an attraction. A boat ride on the calm and blue waters of San Pedro Bay takes tourists to the Marabut Marine Park where numerous limestone rock formations await them.
The panoramic Lulugayan Falls in Calbiga town is a curtain of water spilling into multi-level natural pools. Travel to the site is only a short trek through a hilly forest.