Tourism secretary Ramon Jimenez disclosed that come December, the department will unveil strategies on how to effectively promote our country. As the chief promoter of the Philippines, Jimenez needs a "kick-ass" campaign that will approximate or even surpass the success of Wow Philippines. (Wow Philippines was the creative brain child of BBDO Guerrero, one of the top advertising agencies in the Philippines)
Tourism is one of the top priorities of this administration. If done properly, tourism can generate billions of dollars worth of investments, with minimal costs. Tourism creates jobs. Tourism creates businesses. Tourism builds positive perceptions about the country.
What marketing strategy will the Tourism department implement? Will they prioritize the four ps (Price, place, positioning and promotions) or the new marketing strategy of four C's (consumer or community, cost, competition and communication)?
If we are to analyze the central philosophical construct of the Tuwid na Daan of the Aquino administration, we must recognize that central to this construct is the people's participation. Where is the people in all these schemas?
Let's identify first, the main reason why tourists go to the Philippines. Why do tourists go here and visit?
There is no study conducted by either the Bureau of Immigration or the Department of Tourism about this topic.
They always presume that tourists go here (1) for rest and recreation or leisure (2) business (3) visiting friends or relatives (4) medical tourism or (5) MICE. Since we don't have the figures or percentages of priority in these five categories, we create a strategy that I describe as chopsuey. It’s like the Philippines is everything for everybody. No.
The Philippines is not for everybody. If we are to really position the Philippines in the scheme of things, it is always consider a niche. Why? First, it is not as easy to go here as what we initially perceive. Our rates, to be honest, are really not as cheap as other destinations. Cost-wise, we are comparable with Thailand and Singapore, and if we are to consider cost competition, expect us to be higher than others and less competitive in terms of rates.
Now, if we compare ourselves with Thailand, surely, more tourists will choose to go there rather than here. Why? Thailand has a focused marketing communications strategy. Thailand's main selling point is its rich culture and biodiversity, two main reasons why it is unique. Its Buddhist temples, unique cuisine and striking mountains and valleys are attractions, good reasons why tourists go there regularly.
Apart from this, Thailand has effectively branded itself as a place for “Muay Thai”, now a global martial arts phenomenon. Many foreigners stay in Thailand to learn this art form. Nevermind if it is the most brutal boxing sport in the world. And I don’t mean that foreigners go there because they’re blood thirsty, oh no. Central to the sport is the acceptance of its Buddhist influences.
So we have very definite and unique reasons why, if you’re a tourist, you want to go to Thailand.
How about our country? Why will you go to the Philippines?
Some say, our beaches are the main attractions. For me, no. there are more beautiful beaches around the Caribbean and even in Europe, North America and in the islands of Micronesia that equals if not surpass our beaches. If I’m an American, why would I go and travel half way around the world, when I can spend my money in a romantic Caribbean trip?
Others say, well, our natural wonders are definite attractions. We have the underground river. We have majestic, gold colored hills in Bohol and unique lakes and rivers, all in pristine condition.
I travelled throughout this country and frankly, our natural wonders are comparable with Malaysia and Indonesia, even Cambodia. Do they have a thousand small isles and islets in one location? Yes, they do. Do they have jagged and rocky outgrowths in their beachfronts? Yes, they have.
Now, if we are to say that tourists are attracted to our “modern growth” as a nation, well, how can we surpass the megaliths of Malaysia, Hongkong, Korea, Singapore, China and Japan?
Admit it—we pale in comparison since Metro Manila is still not as modern and as cosmopolitan as these places.
Okey, so what do we want to offer to foreigners so that they will come and visit here?
I dare say, let’s offer them a very unique experience.
Let’s focus on the consumer. What is the main need of a tourist?
Answer---tourists want to have fun. Having fun means going around, looking at strange things, praising natural wonders, meeting new friends, enjoying the food, drinking tons of beer, without forking thousands of dollars in the process.
Offer tourists the very reason we like to stay here in this country---the experience of being Pinoy, or Filipino.
Among all Asian countries, ours is the most unique. Fact is, our culture as a People is the richest and most diverse there is in Asia. Our culture is the synthesis of every good in the world---a heady mix of Asian and Western influences.
If you want to understand Chinese, Arab, Indian, Malaysian, Thailand and even Indonesian culture, go to the Philippines. If you want to experience Western style living, meaning American, this is the place to go. And if you want to experience Iberian culture in its Asiatic form, the Philippines is the best place to go.
All of these cultural influences are merged in the persona of the Filipino. The Filipino is the best reason why tourists would want to go to this country.
Tourists want to have a fiesta, and fiestas are an abundant lot here in the Philippines. Ask around, and the most memorable experience of a tourist in the Philippines is of his experience taking part in a fiesta.
The fiesta is simply, the Filipino’s version of baccalania. Feast your eyes in our hills, mountains, volcanoes, rivers, streams and valleys while you feast in our sumptuous and delicious cuisines and savor our warmest smiles, and our coolest life style. Plus! Buy Global brands in our shores in our big mega sales at great prices.
Picture a freedom-loving person enjoying his place under the sun, ever mindful of respecting other people, while experiencing a most unique life here in the Philippines, that's a Filipino.