Tourism campaign: Turning fun in PH into hard cashBy Winston A. Marbella
Philippine Daily Inquirer
(First of two parts)
The Department of Tourism (DoT) has more than just hundreds of billions of pesos riding on its blockbuster campaign, “It’s more fun in the Philippines.”
They’ve got the government’s most visible and palpable showcase project riding on those six words and, ultimately, how the common people will rate the performance of the Aquino presidency.
No other government activity reaches the grassroots with more impact. The industry’s economic “ripple effects” directly provide employment to close to seven million tourism workers, almost a fifth of the workforce. And working for tourist dollars is actually a lot of fun.
“It’s more fun in the Philippines,” declared Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, as the four-day 45th annual meeting of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) board of governors ended recently. “Manila 2012 has put the Philippines back on the radar screen of the international community.”
Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr. unveiled the National Tourism Development Plan, a P266-billion blueprint aimed at increasing international tourist arrivals to 10 million, and domestic travelers to 35.5 million by 2016.
The Aquino administration is planning to spend some P74 billion beginning this year to reach those targeted arrivals. The funds will be poured into infrastructure, tourist-site improvements, and marketing support over a four-year period until 2016, Jimenez said.
Jimenez said initial promotion efforts have started yielding results. In the first quarter of 2012, inbound tourism jumped by 16 percent to 1.15 million. This brings the agency closer to its 4.6 million arrivals targeted for the year.
The increase is the market’s “quick response to promotion initiatives,” he said. Arrivals from China grew by 77 percent, Korea 16 percent, Taiwan 37 percent, Australia 18 percent, the United Kingdom 21 percent and Germany 18 percent.
With close to 4 million tourist arrivals in 2011, the country still ranks way behind its neighbors—Malaysia (25 million), Thailand (19 million), Singapore (13.2 million), Indonesia (7.6 million) and Vietnam (6 million).
6.8 million jobs
The DoT hopes to raise the contribution of the tourism sector to 8.1 percent of the gross domestic product from the current 5 percent; and “directly employ 6.8 million that will account for 17 percent of total employment.” Most of these tourism workers will come from the poor sector, based on the cluster destination framework.
The planned investments versus the projected increase in tourist expenditures will result in an economic internal rate of return of 21.05 percent, and a net present value of P24.1 billion.
Around P50 billion will be spent by the government to build roads and bridges, says Rolando Canizal, director for the Office of Tourism Planning, Research and Information Management. This year, P3 billion has been allotted to construct roads and airports, and P17 billion in 2013.
The plan was presented at a parallel forum during the 45th Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors of the Asian Development Bank.
The government investment represents 29 percent of the P266-billion total investments needed by the tourism sector. Canizal said that most of the investments, or P191 billion, will come from the private sector.
Additional 50,867 hotel and resort units are being planned from 2012 to 2016.
Daniel Corpuz, Tourism undersecretary for planning and promotions, said that prior to the master plan, the goals of the tourism sector were hampered by “uncompetitive tourist destinations and products; limited flights and seat capacities, including the poor quality and limited capacity of international and domestic transportation and infrastructure destination, as well as other restrictions that have limited market access; and weak public-sector tourism governance and human-resources development policies and practices.”
To overcome these challenges, he said, the DoT will undertake strategic directions and programs—such as the development and marketing of competitive tourist products and destinations; improvement of market access, connectivity and destination infrastructure; and improvement of tourism institutional, governance and industry manpower capabilities.
Jimenez defended the agency’s slogan—“It’s more fun in the Philippines”—from critics who said that the problems of the sector couldn’t be solved with just a tagline.
“Those who say that have limited knowledge of the persuasive power of words, of communication,” he said.
Jimenez said the slogan “makes a compelling argument for choosing the Philippines as one of the world’s top tourist destinations. It is rooted in our competitive advantage, a ‘deliverable,’ where Filipinos put genuine value in being able to participate to make their guests feel at home.”
It is second nature to Filipinos, he said, “to be hospitable and seize every opportunity to make guests’ every visit to his home successful.”
The slogan has “energized” the system and “contains one thing that works so well in an open competition … it is the truth. It is about Filipinos and their infectious love of things the world tends to forget: family, friends and communion with God and Nature,” he said.
The Aquino administration has just undertaken a P63-million advertising campaign over CNN. The DoT and the departments of Budget and Management, Finance, and Trade and Industry, and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas will shoulder funding for the campaign.
The DoT said the 30-second spots on CNN cost about P19,000 each. The rollout of the ads was timed for the ADB meet and CNN’s special Eye on the Philippines programming. It will run in key international markets until August.
(To be continued)
(The author is president of a think tank specializing in transforming social and economic trends into public policy and business strategy. E-mail email@example.com.)
Short URL: http://business.inquirer.net/?p=61357