The City of Manila has been widely recognized as a travel destination since the beginning of
the 20th century. In early travel literature it was praised as ‘the Pearl of the Orient’
(O’CONNELL 1908:5) or ‘Riviera of the Orient’ (Philippine Tourist Association 1930:3). The
Second World War brought comprehensive destruction and the loss of numerous visitor
attractions which were not rebuilt until now.
It was not until the late 1970’s that the capital’s tourism was initially revived. The move
towards tourism was pushed as the capital hosted the conferences of the World Monetary
Fund in 1976 and the World Tourism Organization in 1980. During this period, development
of tourism infrastructure accelerated. The main goal was the positioning of Metropolitan
Manila as the premiere convention city in the region (source: interview with an official of the
Philippine Convention and Visitor Corporation, 2006).
The major cities in Southeast Asia possess an important gateway function which emphasizes
their existing and future potential for urban tourism.
The growth in demand for urban destinations in Southeast Asia is evident since the beginning of
the 21st century (World Tourism Organization 2008:9). Tourism is developing tremendously
in Hong Kong, Macao, Singapore and Bangkok as the focal points for urban tourism in
Southeast Asia, followed by other cities like Metropolitan Manila. Tourism has become an
important income generator for cities in the region contributing to economic growth.
Today, Metropolitan Manila competes with other cities for tourism in the region. According
to statistics of the Department of Tourism, the Philippines received 3.1 million inbound
visitor arrivals in 2008, of which the majority entered the country via the capital.
Additionally, the capital is also a target for domestic travellers. Tourism must be seen as
economically important for the capital.
Are the Philippines safe to visit in 2020?
Yes—but there are some significant safety concerns you need to keep in mind.
Most recently, there have been travel warnings advising tourists to avoid areas such as the Sulu Archipelago, including the southern Sulu Sea, and Marawi City in Mindanao, due to crime, terrorism, and civil unrest. Further, it is recommended that you reconsider travel to other areas of Mindanao, for the same reasons.
Locals tell us that most of the country is perfectly safe as long you follow a few common-sense rules. They helped us create this guide to safety in the Philippines, full of info on regional concerns, water quality, necessary vaccinations, security tips, and more.
- Avoid the Malate and Ermita areas in the center of Manila Philippines.
- Be aware of pickpockets—they’re out there. Keep your bags close to you and never put valuables in your back pockets. Wear your backpack in front when in crowded places.
- Beware of beggars—they’re not bad people, but if you offer them money, you’ll be swamped by beggars from all directions, and your belongings could be snatched.
- Don’t give street kids pesos—the money ultimately goes to criminals who use the children to make money. Give them a snack or food instead. Ultimately, it’s best just to ignore them, as hard as it may be.
- Avoid dark alleys, especially when you’re alone.
Rising volume of inbound tourism will increase demand on contemporary leisure and sightseeing opportunities, accommodation and adequate infrastructure in the capital. Yet, inter alia, this becomes obvious in the development of new tourist attractions in the metropolis like the ‘Manila Ocean Park’. The marine theme park in the City of Manila will be operating after 2009. This project shall underline the capital’s ambition as a serious player in the tourism market regionally and internationally.