THE Department of Tourism (DOT) is pushing in overdrive its marketing efforts to promote the Philippines abroad, in light of the recent negative travel advisories issued against the country by the foreign governments.
In an interview with the BusinessMirror, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat said, “We are stepping up our marketing and promotions efforts in key markets around the globe to assure them that the Philippines remains a safe and enjoyable destination.” This includes a refreshed P250-million brand campaign anchored on the “It’s More Fun in the Philippines” slogan.
She said this month, the DOT will be participating in Salon Dela Plonge in Paris and Boot Show in Düsseldorf, two of the biggest dive events in Europe. They will also attend the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Tourism Forum in Vietnam, which is the region’s biggest and most prestigious gathering of tourism ministers and travel trade executives.
“We will also be organizing a number of familiarization tours for foreign travel agents and media partners for them to see first hand that it is business as usual in the Philippines,” she stressed.
Nancy Binay prods DOT to correct negative impression of PHL
This developed as Senator Nancy Binay, chair of the committee on tourism, published a statement on her official Facebook account on Friday, urging the DOT to implement measures to counter the anticipated fallout from advisories issued by the UK and Australia warning the countries’ nationals from traveling specifically to Mindanao. She said the DOT should update Philippine travel guides to correct the negative impression of local destinations in Mindanao.
A New Year’s Eve bombing in Cotabato City that killed two persons and wounded 35 others prompted the travel warning.
“The DOT should work doubly hard to counter the negative publicity resulting in the travel advisories,” the lawmaker said in Filipino.
She also urged the police and military to help ensure that accurate reports on the security situation in localities are provided to the embassies of other countries.
“Of course, we have to respect these countries’ prerogatives in issuing advisories out of concern for their citizens. There are times, though, that these advisories are unnecessary and sometimes exaggerated,” the senator said.
She added, however, the burden lies on the Philippine government in convincing tourists that the country is a safe environment and their welfare is a top priority.
Close coordination with embassies, particularly in rectifying inaccurate reports and in updating peace and order measures, among others, should be undertaken, she averred.
“We need to have a constant dialogue with other countries,” Binay stressed. “If we can, maybe let’s use mediators, their own nationals who are happy and satisfied tourists in our country to help dispel their misconceptions.”
These mediators could also be tapped for social media, where issues could easily snowball and become unmanageable, according to the legislator.
Prior to the bombing in Cotabato City, on Christmas Day, the US government warned its citizens from traveling the Philippines due to the security concerns at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. While the UK government issues its travel advisory because of the terrorist attack in the south, it also referred to the US warning regarding traveling through Naia.
The US Department of Homeland Security has instructed its airlines issuing tickets to Manila to notify in the writing about the agency’s security concerns over Naia, as well as prominently post the advisory in major US airports.
The DOT expressed confidence it would be able to meet its 1.2-million visitor-arrivals target from the US, despite the security concerns. From January to October 2018, tourists from the US grew by 8.34 percent to 850,735, making it the third largest market for visitors in the Philippines. (See, “PHL can meet goal on US tourists despite Naia security woes – DOT,” in the BusinessMirror, December 28, 2018.)