In the 1660s, the upper-class young men of means from Europe used to take a traditional trip called “The Grand Tour.” The custom extended through until the advent of the mass rail transport system in the 1840s. It was like a rite of passage for these young men as they were introduced to a country or region’s culture – lifestyle, geography, history, religion, art, architecture, and other influences – helping shape their way of life.
In a way, the Grand Tour paved the way to “cultural tourism.” It has branched out to other types, but the industry, and the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNTWO) for one, believes it is making a full circle. Records show the continuing growth of cultural tourism. Like the Grand Tour, the young tourists of this generation see travel as an opportunity to encounter cultural experiences and education. Read the accounts made by Tanya Mohn in the article Travel Boom: Young Tourists Spent $217 Billion Last Year, More Growth Than Any Other Group posted in Forbes – Lifestyle Section.
“In 2012, $217 billion of the $1.088 trillion tourism “spend” worldwide came from young travelers, an increase that vastly outstripped that of other international travelers, according to a new study of youth and student travel released by Amsterdam-based World Youth Student and Educational Travel Confederation…
… The study, released in September, updated research initially conducted in 2002 and later in 2007, and looked at why, how and where young people travel and included survey responses from more than 34,000 young travelers from 137 countries.
“Our research shows that the nature of youth travel has changed enormously in the past decade,” said David Chapman, director general for the WYSE Travel Confederation. “Young travelers today want, more than ever, to enrich themselves with cultural experiences, to meet local people and to improve their employability when they return home.”
There are three important “culturally-related highlights” that you can gather from the report:
- Young travelers use the opportunity to advance their educational and cultural experiences for gainful employment.
- The study reveals that “22 percent of young travelers want to learn a language, 15 percent want to gain work experience, and 15 percent travel to study – all significantly up from 2007.”
- The destinations that these young travelers visited changed from major gateway cities to more far-flung destinations.
Thus, it is not surprising to discover blogs that take readers to places that offer cultural and historical tourism. One such blog that would appeal to history and culture buffs is Paula O’s “5 Places in the Philippines That Will Take You Back 400 Years 75” posted in Looloo Insights – Culture Section.
“Being under the Spanish rule for more than 300 years, almost every town or city in the Philippines has architectural gems.
While most have been sold off, or deeply neglected, or are already in ruins, some have thankfully survived through the centuries and are still intact and relatively well-preserved.
For the history buffs, these five heritage towns are worth visiting more than once.
- Taal, Batangas: The charming town of Taal is the setting for ostentatious old “bahay na bato” (stone/adobe houses) lining the streets. Among the important “old structures” here are the long-standing church of Basilica de San Martin de Tours, Galleria Taal (home of the local heroine Marcela Agoncillo) and Villa Tortuga.
- Vigan, Ilocos Sur: Walk or ride a “karitela” (Filipino version of horse-drawn carriage) along the UNESCO World Site old cobblestone street called Calle Crisologo to get the feel of being back in time when the Spanish were in power. Other important historical sites include Baluarte for animal lovers and St. Paul Metropolitan Cathedral.
- Pila, Laguna: The quaint town was declared a National Historical Landmark by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) since 2000. The archaeological findings in this place date back to Tang Dynasty. St. Anthony of Padua Parish Church is flocked with old houses, the town hall and the plaza.
- Silay City, Negros Occidental: This city, dubbed as “Little Paris,” is home to over 30 well-preserved old homes. These were built by the wealthy owners of sugarcane plantations. One of the most notable landmark is the Gaston Mansion or widely known as Balay Negrense.
- Biñan City, Laguna: To date, there are still rows of old, Spanish homes along the streets near San Isidro de Labrador Parish Church. This is Jose Rizal’s birthplace and his mother’s ancestral home, Alberto House, still stand in the town.
The Philippines has many more Spanish colonial homes scattered in its many islands. If you are looking for a cultural travel, this is one great destination to start.