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Batanes Island, Philippines: Developing New Branding and Marketing of Sustainable Tourism

Dave Smith, CESO Volunteer Advisor January 6, 2018

In July 2017, I travelled with CESO Country Representative Matt Navalta to Batanes to complete the first CESO assignment ever done in these parts. Batanes is a gem hidden in the most northerly part of the Philippines. It is a unique part of the world with a population of under 20,000 residing on three out of the seven islands under provincial jurisdiction, and a distinctive Ivatan culture and language.

Together with the local government, our objective was to develop a marketing and branding strategy to introduce Batanes as a sought-after tourist destination while ensuring sustainable tourism practices to preserve the province’s heritage and culture. It was enjoyable and rewarding to work with dedicated people who showed a remarkable amount of enthusiasm and support for the project.


The day-to-day experiences of the project entailed touring the tourism landscape and infrastructure, as well as discussing opportunities and challenges with various stakeholders. There was time to explore and enjoy the natural beauty of the area as well, which included walking on pristine white sand beaches, hiking trails, viewing caves with stalactites, and visiting historic stone homes that have stood the test of typhoons and time. I even had the opportunity to travel between Batanes Island and Itbeyat Isand on a three hour boat ride. The travel was a little rough – a storm occurred at sea and my breakfast went into ocean. I would like to go back, but I think I will wait until air travel is possible.

VA Dave exploring the stone houses in Batanes. 
Intensive SWOT sessions were held with the stakeholders in the working group

The Batanes Islands are beautiful. The islands offer unique experiences and landscapes. I am delighted to learn of the project’s progression. Today, the local government has implemented the new marketing and branding strategy driven by the tagline “Breathtaking Batanes – Explore Simplicity”. So while air travel is still rare and expensive, I am optimistic that more tourism activity will occur in the future.

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