In a surprising turn of events, it was Panay Island, and not the internationally-recognized island province of Palawan, that was picked by global tourists to be included in this year’s TripAdvisor Traveller’s Choice Awards.
Based on the coveted annual awards program of renowned American travel company TripAdvisor, Panay Island earned the 20th spot in the Popular Destinations in Asia category this year, beating other iconic cities and tourist attractions such as Bophut, Thailand; Shanghai, China; Singapore, Singapore; Seoul, South Korea; and Taipei, Taiwan, which earned the 21st, 22nd, 23rd, 24th, and the 25th spot, respectively.
Aside from serving as a gateway to another famed global destination Boracay, Panay Island is composed of a group of islands in the Western Visayas region, including four provinces Aklan, Antique, Iloilo, and Capiz.
“For years, Panay Island has shown up on most travelers’ maps as a stop-over on the way to Boracay’s white sand beaches. Turns out, they were missing something truly special — a hidden gem with a rich ecotourism ethos, where turquoise lagoons and waterfalls are just the start,” TripAdvisor said.
The island has four airports, two of which are gateways for international tourists located in Kalibo, Aklan, and Iloilo province. While the remaining two, Caticlan and Roxas, are serving only domestic flights.
Panay Island also has three ferry ports in Caticlan, Dumaguit, and Iloilo.
Aside from Boracay, the island also offers other beautiful beaches such as the Jawili Beach in Aklan, Mararison and Phaidon beach in Antique, the beaches east of Iloilo City.
Iloilo is also known as a cultural center capital of Panay with its century-old Spanish structures and relics, while Roxas City in Capiz is dubbed as the culinary capital of the island.
Meanwhile, in a Facebook post, the people behind another famed geotourism site Masungi Georeserve in Baras, Rizal expressed their gratitude after making it to the top 10 percent of worldwide attractions in the same awards program.
“Sustainable tourism is close to our hearts as a way of supporting conservation and restoration efforts, engaging rangers, and raising awareness of why this landscape deserves a fighting chance,” the Masungi management said.
According to TripAdvisor, winners were calculated based on the quality and quantity of the millions of reviews, opinions and ratings collected in 2019, prior to the pandemic.
“This has been a tough year for our industry, but the global desire to go and explore, whether the destination is an hour away or across the world, remains strong. We’re passionate about guiding travelers to the good out there, especially the good found within these recognized hotels, restaurants and airlines that rise to the occasion in offering the best of the best,” Lindsay Nelson, chief experience and brand officer at Tripadvisor said.