The Central Philippines possesses a wealth of ecological and cultural attractions including pristine white sandy beaches, diverse marine life, volcanoes, forests and wetlands and heritage sites. These natural resources support a range of tourism products and facilities to include national parks, ecotourism sites, beach resorts, scuba diving, golf courses, trekking and festivals.
Visits to national parks are an important element of the Central Philippines tourism product.
Nature and Ecotourism Sites
Nature and ecotourism sites form a significant component of tourism in most of the destinations within the Central Philippines. There is a wide range of nature products which include dolphin watching, bird watching and mangrove tours. In the development of nature products, ecotourism principles are being consciously applied. The National Ecotourism Strategy formulated by the DOT and DENR has given impetus to the development of various community-based ecotourism products. Nature and ecotourism sites assisted by LGUs, NGOs and the DOT/DENR include the Olango Bird watching tour in Cebu, the Cambuhat River Cruise and the Pamilakan Island Dolphin Watching (Marine Life) tour in Bohol.
Scuba diving is a growth sector and is becoming a major market driver for many coastal and marine destinations. The scuba dive product is mainly promoted to the overseas markets.
Festivals and Events
Major festivals include the Ati-atihan, Dinagyang and Sinulog festivals in Akian, Iloilo and Cebu respectively. They are one/two day events primarily for the domestic market – have international appeal.
The Central Philippines has a large number of beach resorts, the best known being in Mactan and Boracay.
Although golfing is a recognized driver of tourism demand, there are only 14 golf courses in the Central Philippines, of which less than a handful can be considered championship quality – i.e. the level necessary to attract the international golfer.
Yachting & Marinas
Although the waters of the Central Philippines are ideal for yachting, the product is virtually non-existent. There are no established marinas, yachting guides etc.
Although well established in South East Asia, the cruise product has not been developed in the Central Philippines.
Hiking/trekking is a major tourist activity worldwide. Although the Central Philippines has the natural resource base to offer a unique hiking/trekking product, there are few designated trails, informed guides and supporting tourism facilities of hotels, inns etc.
Urban attractions are mainly composed of buildings/streetscapes/plazas of architectural significance, museums and art galleries, theatre and other forms entertainment (dance, music etc), historical sites (churches, forts, castles etc) retail (shopping centers, malls), bay or river promenades/waterfront areas, restaurants bars, etc.
Whereas the Central Philippines has a number of churches and ancestral houses of historical interest, few are of international significance. However, shopping and dining out (mainly fast-food or mid range) is well developed everywhere.