Although the country’s tourism sector began with a rough start while still recovering from damages caused by super typhoon “Yolanda” in November last year, the Department of Tourism (DOT) in turn strengthened efforts to revive its international tourism campaign and invest in the country’s best asset — its people
Before the end of 2013, DOT, through its marketing arm, the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) launched a continuous approach to raise revenues to help rebuild efforts in Yolanda-hit areas, “Bangon Tours” and with the outpour of foreign aid, the agency introduced “The Philippines says Thank You campaign,” last Feb 8 this year where simultaneous thank you messages emerged in social media sites from all over the world.
DOT said that the #PHthankyou campaign message was also displayed through print ads and billboards in iconic places across the world like the Times Square in New York and the Piccadilly Circus in London to name a few.
In the same month, DOT slowly worked its way back to revive the “More Fun” campaign with the calamity-hit tourist spots starting to get back in shape, only this time being more “site specific.”
Since then, the agency has been releasing a series of 30-second destination-specific advertisements for Siargao, Palawan, Bohol, Boracay, Cebu, Davao, and Manila as part of the new phase of the More Fun campaign.
Philippine Tourism 2014
DOT meanwhile welcomed the announcement of the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to return the Philippines aviation safety status to Category 1 after being downgraded to Category 2 in 2008 since it will be allowing Philippine carriers to operate in other cities of the United States and increase frequencies in existing routes.
The cruise line industry is doing quite well also with over 20,000 tourists expected to be drawn by the country this year owing to plans from international cruise lines of increasing their ports of call and expanding visits.
September marked the launch of the DOT’s event-centric marketing campaign, “Visit the Philippines Year 2015” (VPY2015), which is also aimed at strengthening the country’s brand image. This campaign is aimed at helping the agency meet its tourism goal of acquiring 10-million tourists by 2016.
As part of the VPY2015 campaign, the agency is also looking at opportunities to draw in more foreign tourists via MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferencing, Exhibitions) tourism. DOT has also released a TV commercial specifically aimed at promoting the country as a MICE destination.
DOT has also increased the competitiveness of the country's tourism industry by employing a group of international accommodation assessors to check if Philippine hotels and resorts adhere to globally-accepted quality standards and practices.
Its new quality assurance and accreditation standards system -- which was launched last year -- will be applied and tested in 155 hotels and resorts located in main tourist destinations including Cebu, Bohol, Davao, and Palawan.
As for international tourist arrivals, the DOT said while it may fall short of obtaining its target of acquiring 6.8-million tourists by yearend, it was hoping to at least exceed the 2013 figure, 4.7 million.
For 2015, the DOT is expecting 8.2-million foreign visitors and eventually, 10-million foreign visitors by the end of the Aquino administration in 2016.
DOT has yet to release the latest number of arrivals to media, however, the agency said that the top ten visitor markets include South Korea, United States, China, Japan, Australia, Singapore, Canada, United Kingdom, Taiwan and Malaysia.
This year was also a big year for the agency when it comes to reaping recognitions and awards. DOT’s “It”s More Fun in the Philippines”, which was launched in January 2012 has come as far as being dubbed as the third smartest marketing campaign in the world by global annual ranker of marketing campaigns Warc 100 this year.
DOT said that the Philippines was also included in UK’s Telegraph 20 Destinations for 2014 and its World’s Top Beach Holidays, and Conde Naste Reader’s Choice Award 2014 for the Top Places to Visit Around the World.
The country has also received the Best Tropical Island for 2014 by the Chinese Daily Shanghai Morning Post and the Destination of the Year by the 25th TTG Asia Travel Awards 2014.
Palawan was meanwhile recognized as the Top Island Destination in the World by international travel magazine, Conde Naste Traveler after receiving a reader’s rating of 88.750 in the magazine’s annual Reader’s Choice Awards.
Aside from Palawan, Boracay Island in Aklan also made it to the top island destination list, clinching the 12th spot with a rating of 82.683.
Vigan City is now one of the “New 7 Wonders Cities” of the world, according to a global poll conducted by the New7Wonders Foundation, the same institution that endorsed and promoted the underground river in Puerto Princesa City as one of the New7Wonders of Nature.
Manila emerged as one of “Asia's Most Happening Capitals”, according to popular US travel guide, Lonely Planet for various reasons such as its craft beer, street food, and speakeasy bars.
Likewise, DOT Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr. for his part, received this year’s Lifetime Contributor Award for the public sector at the Asia CEO Awards.
Before being appointed by President Benigno S. Aquino III as Tourism Secretary, Jimenez was head of the advertising firm, Jimenez Basic, which helped build up products for companies such as Jollibee, San Miguel Corp., Globe Telecom, Unilab, Chowking, Coca-Cola, and Cebu Pacific. (PNA) CTB/Azer N. Parrocha