MANILA – The historic walled city of Intramuros has emerged as Asia's leading tourist attraction in the 2020 World Travel Awards, besting such world-class landmarks as India’s Taj Mahal and the Great Wall of China.
This is the second time the Philippine destination won the title after getting the award in 2016.
Trailing Intramuros in this year's awards are the Angkor Temples in Cambodia, the Borobudur Temple Compounds in Indonesia, the Ha Long Bay in Vietnam, the Sengan-en and Shoko Shuseikan Museum in Japan, Victoria Peak in Hong Kong, the Tokyo Imperial Palace in Japan, and the Terracotta Warriors and The Forbidden City in China.
Four years since its 2016 WTA Asia's Leading Tourist Attraction title, the walled city has not only maintained its grandeur but also features several improvements, which, for the Intramuros Administration (IA), may have contributed to its recent win.
From 2017 to 2019, Intramuros strived to revitalize its pocket parks and plazas, such as the Plaza Sto. Tomas, Plaza Roma, President's Gallery, Juan Luna Monument, Legazpi Monument, Plazuela de Sta. Isabel, Plaza de España, Gomburza Monument, and Plaza de Armaz.
The Manila Cathedral located inside Intramuros (Pre-pandemic photo by DOT/Denison Manuel)
Plaza Sto. Tomas used to be riddled with vendors and illegal street provisions. Now, its streets have been cleared for tourists and the general public, the vendors are properly organized, and the plaza is well lit and secured.
"We also put effort to renew and establish old and new attractions in Intramuros for the tourists. The two general projects were the renewal of Fort Santiago, offering a revitalized perspective for the world-renowned gate, and the opening of Museo de Intramuros," the IA said.
After being left in ruins for decades, Fort Santiago was reconstructed in phases starting 2011 and was completed in April 2019.
Galeria de los Presidentes de la Republica Pilipina. (Pre-pandemic photo by DOT/Denison Manuel)
Before the pandemic, the Museo de Intramuros inside the old San Ignacio Church, offered ecclesiastical insights for museum aficionados, stretching back to the early Christianization of the Philippines.
In the years beyond, the IA said it wants tourists – and local businesses alike – to look at Intramuros and imagine a "vibrant future" not limited to cobblestones and old churches but an old city breathing a brand new life.
Metro Manila is still under general community quarantine (GCQ) but the IA is prepared should the region shift to modified GCQ and eventually allow leisure travel.
"We have adopted the SafePass and also further recalibrate our existing sites to comply with the health and safety protocols. We will wait for the proper guidelines to be issued," IA Administrator Guiller Asido told the Philippine News Agency. (PNA)