In the Philippines, you have to fly to Palawan Island to enjoy beaches in their finest; drive to Clark, Pampanga for hot air balloon rides; go way up north to Vigan, Ilocos Sur for a glimpse of the past; and travel down south to Bohol for closer look at Mother Nature.
Beautiful as the Philippines is, its neighbor Saipan, an island-territory in the Commonwealth of Northern Marianas of the US, invites travelers to enjoy all of the above within close proximity. With a 115.4-square kilometer land area, the island is six times smaller than Metro Manila.
Because of its promising positioning in the tourism market, the Marianas Visitors Authority (MVA), which just opened its offices in the Philippines in March, is aggressively promoting Saipan as a travel destination for Filipinos.
In fact, it hosted the grand launch of Philippine Airlines’ (PAL) direct flights to Saipan on April 22 at the Century Park Hotel in Manila, which begins flying to the island come June 15.
In an interview with The Sunday Times Magazine, MVA Philippine representative Jean Lugan shared, “The reason [why we are becoming more aggressive]is because we see that Filipinos now love to travel more than ever. With that in mind, we are trying to promote something that is far different from other countries.”
Among the exciting things that Filipino tourists can do on the island include flying an airplane—the adventure costing only about $100, or approximately P5,000. Other action-packed activities include parasailing in the Pacific Ocean and ATV drives in the forest.
For relaxation, Lugan enticed that visitors can frolic on Saipan’s beaches, which she described as “serene and calm” because they are far from commercialized.
“Saipan is a combination of adventure and relaxation,” Lugan noted.
When it comes to history, tourists will particularly learn a whole lot about World War II in Saipan. As some may know, Saipan was used as the US’ launching pad for atomic bombs that rocked Japan. As such, there are many war relics to see in the island including abandoned submarines underwater.
“In Saipan, you can do all these things in the same place. That is why, I am encouraging Filipinos to visit the island instead of other Asian destinations for a change,” Lugan enthused.
She added that once in Saipan, Filipinos will feel right at home what with their countrymen comprising 36 percent or 22,000 of the island’s population. In fact, 60 percent of inbound Filipinos go to the island to be with family and friends.
And while US visa application can be a major obstacle in going to Saipan, Lugan revealed that the MVA is already in negotiating a waiver only travel document for Filipinos.
While this is still in the process, Lugan is nonetheless confident that through PAL’s upcoming twice-weekly flights, MVA will soon welcome more Filipinos to Saipan.
“We can tap the millenials who are in their 20s and looking for adventure; hobbyists, aged 45 to 55, who love fishing and golfing; and families of parents from 30s to 50s and their children. They will all find something to do and enjoy in Saipan,” she ended.