The Philippine Department of Tourism has unveiled a new air route going to the Banaue rice terraces through the Clark International Airport. This new track is seen to assist tourists in lessening travel time from the usual 10-hour ride to just around two hours or so.
The Banaue rice terraces in the Philippines' Cordillera region -- unofficially called the eighth wonder of the world -- have always discouraged most travelers due to the length of the bus ride from Manila to the site. Filipino journalist, Tata Mapa, told The Telegraph: "The roads are fine, and the bus is fast, it's just a really long way."
According to DOT Secretary Wanda Teo, during the Internationale Tourismus Borse in Messe Berlin, the new initiative comes with a package that includes a four-day and three-night trip to the site from Clark, Pampanga to the Bagabag Airport in Nueva Vizcaya. The trip from Clark to Nueva Vizcaya will take an hour, while from Bagabag Airport to the rice terraces will take another hour's ride which brings to the total of two hours sans traffic and preparations.
DOT Regional Director in the Cordillera Administrative Region, Marie Venus Tan, told the Inquirer, "The Cordilleras is all about tradition and ethnic culture." Banaue is their strongest selling point because visitors can have meaningful cultural immersions that will benefit the host communities.
Flights to the site will begin in May with four-flight schedules to happen every week courtesy of Wakay Air Services. Most citizens were wary of the new flight offer, especially if the case of overcrowding will destroy the rice terraces.
However, many also countered that the threat of urbanization had led many locals in Banaue to depart the province in search for a good city life. If there's an influx of tourists and the tourism industry will improve, many residents will stay in Banaue to create more sustainable tourism jobs for the locals.
The Banaue rice terraces was granted status as a World Heritage Site in 1995 by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).