Six of the country's 7,000-plus islands were devastated by Typhoon Haiyan; many of the others badly need tourists to return. Local writer Aya Lowe picks the best places to go
For a country with thousands of idyllic islands, plus world-class surfing and diving, the Philippines is a relatively undiscovered travel destination. Tourism is crucial to the country's economy, accounting for eight per cent of its GDP, but compare the UK visitor numbers – 120,000 in 2012 – to those of Thailand (800,000 per year) and you get some idea of just how off the radar this vast archipelago is.
This month, of course, the country is firmly on the world's radar – for all the wrong reasons. Typhoon Haiyan caused wide spread destruction across the provinces of Leyte and eastern Samar on the mid-eastern side of the Philippines and some parts of Palawan and Cebu on the mid-western side. But while the areas in the path of the typhoon were devastated, much of the country was not damaged. The storm caused havoc on six of the country's 7,107 islands, so most resorts and tourists activities are open and fully functional, and those that were hit are quickly getting back on their feet in the run up to December and January, two of their busiest months of the year.