A number of ways for Filipinos to help the Department of Tourism (DOT) in promoting the Philippines were mentioned by the newly-appointed Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez, Jr., the Inquirer reported. He acknowledged the crucial role of Filipinos as “enthusiastic selling agents”.
Waiving at tourist buses. One way of promoting the Philippines, he said, involves a simple wave at passing tourist buses. True. But it should be more, along the lines of the “transformation of the people’ that he also mentioned. The best example is Palawan. We previously raved about the warmth of the people of Palawan, their clear enthusiasm and helpful knowledge of their place. When we had our vacation in Palawan, even tricycle drivers acted as de facto tour guides — complete with a smile and brief history of interesting locations along the way. Add that with the natural beauty of Palawan and we have a winning formula. If we could name the Top 3 tourism-conscious provinces — with the local government and the people in sync — that would be Palawan, Bohol and Ilocos.
Blogs and social networks. This is long overdue, but at least Sec. Jimenez recognizes this. There’s a lot of blogs, whether independent or as part of social networking sites, which discuss the beauty of the Philippines. A number of these blogs, like VisitPinas, are done as hobbies. Promoting the Philippines at their own expense. No recognition from the government is necessary. The best acknowledgement the government could give bloggers is to harness the power of blogging in promoting the Philippines. Why not talk to these transportation companies, including airlines, to have promos for travel bloggers (ahem, like us)? Separate group bloggers from hermit bloggers (ahem, like us again).
Whisper to PNoy to bring back the Holiday Economics. We don’t need long weekends every month, just a few spread out here and there. Fix the dates way in advance, so business people could prepare.
Bring back “WOW Philippines”. Why reinvent the wheel when it’s working? The problem with showing an accomplishment is the tendency to discard good projects of past administrations, so that credit won’t go to them. Former DOT Secretary Dick Gordon’s WOW Philippines is simple, catchy and effective. Warm on Winter. World of Wonders. Come to think of it, we could still blurt out some of these slogans on top of our heads. Anything less effective than that should not even go past the testing stage.
Be the ambassador of Philippine Tourism. To ask Filipinos to be ambassadors of Philippine tourism is a hollow call if not championed by the Tourism Secretary himself/herself. We ordinary mortals pay for our own fares and travel expenses, yet we try our best to explore the Philippines as often and as wide as we could. The Tourism Secretary uses government funds, taxpayers money, and yet he/she could not go to many, if not most, of Philippine destinations. Go to the Chocolate Hills with least cost to the government. Go white water rafting in CDO, wakeboarding in CamSur or surfing in Siargao. Try the zipline in Tagaytay or in Bukidnon. Go trekking in Pinatubo or visit Mt. Apo. Dive with the butanding in Sorsogon or see the Tubataha Reef. Go shooting the rapids in Pagsanjan or horseback riding in Baguio. Show the enthusiasm and creative means of exploring the Philippines. Promoting the Philippines is best done exploring it, out in the field, not behind a desk. Former Tourism Secretary Ace Durano was good at it. Hopefully Secretary Jimenez will do better.