Why it’s more fun in the Philippines
Interview of Daks F Gonzales, head of product and market development of India at the Department of Tourism, Philippines
With cruises, casinos, and fun galore, this quiet gem in the far east is cooler and closer than ever before. Excerpts from a conversation over coffee with Daks F Gonzales, head of product and market development for India at the Department of Tourism, Philippines.
When can we expect to fly non-stop from India to the Philippines?
We have been told that direct flights to India shall start either by the end of this year or early next year. We are also open to supporting chartered flights and chartered operations in the Philippines.
What’s the best way to explore the archipelago?
We highly recommend a family cruise along the spectacular coastline. A three-day cruise lets you explore many islands with incredible beaches and seascapes along the route. We are targetting 300 port calls in the Philippines by 2020. Once connectivity improves, cruise itineraries from India will become possible.
What else is exciting?
Diving and golfing tours are a fast rising segment. We are also planning on introducing gaming— the casino industry in the Philippines is coming up in a big way. There are currently about 13 casinos in the Philippines including three in Manila.
How ready are you to conduct the Big Fat Indian Wedding?
Phillipines is ready to host dream-come-true weddings. Ask a destination management company, and they will set up a stunning one, with creativity, flexibility and of course great cuisine, including vegetarian and Indian food options —all within your budget, too.
5 GOOD REASONS TO VISIT
Lovely people: Ever-smiling and friendly! You simply must attend one of their colourful fiestas or festivals, especially during Christmas!
Island hopping: Each island offers you different landscape, flora and fauna. Don’t miss El Nido (prehistoric caves), Palaui Island (volcanic rocks), Siargao Island (surf).
Swim & dive: The country’s buffering turquoise waters are filled with a diverse marine life – be prepared to be welcomed by the sharks and the whales when you dip!
Tasting halo-halo: The traditional Filipino dessert prepared with shaved ice, syrup, marshmallows, tubers, jelly, and fruit is a must try whether you are a foodie or not.
Shopping paradise: Shop in Cebu or Manilla. From flea markets to large malls, global brands are available at very reasonable prices. Local handicrafts include basketry, brassware, pearl/coral/turtoise jewellery, mats, and woodcarving.