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ROUGH CUTS| DOT’s sloganeering

THE DEPARTMENT of Tourism (DOT) now has a new slogan in its effort to sell the Philippines to tourists, especially those from other countries. The new slogan, “Love the Philippines,” replaces the Gordon era’s “There is more fun in the Philippines.”

Which of the two is more inviting to the tourists? Frankly, it is hard to compare at this point in time. “Love the Philippines” has just been made public, while the other has existed since the early months of former Subic Bay Management Authority (SBMA) head Dick Gordon’s watch of the Tourism Department.

But what intrigued us is that the Gordon-time slogan seemed successful in conveying to foreigners that, indeed, “There is more fun in the Philippines,” considering the consistent rise of foreign tourists visiting the country. In fact, the only big thing that brought the tourist figures down to almost nil was the COVID-19 pandemic, although the Philippines was not alone in such a situation.

Of course, changing approaches is not alien to Philippine politics. Somehow it has become normal in the country that when a new administration sits in, changes in the government’s many agencies come in as well. Most, if not all, of the agency heads become the first casualties in the so-called “payback time.”

One of these government agencies is the DOT. With the changing of the guard, the newly installed person would always endeavor to wipe away any or all traces of the previous agency leader if only to establish his/her own brand. Thus, “Love the Philippines” is now pushed into the consciousness of every Filipino and foreign travelers who have the money to spend.

Now, how appropriate and realistic is the “Love the Philippines” slogan? And if it is, to whom is its application more fitting? 

If only to provide some kind of answers to the questions we are using here some of the observations from a friend, a former employee of the Defense Department of the United States who is now back in Davao City, hopefully for good. Our friend Marlu Villarosa thinks that the new DOT slogan, like all previous slogans, will certainly bring more to the country more tourists. We agree with him one hundred percent especially if the way the slogan is used is more convincing. The tourism industry process, however, does not end with just coming into the country and going back home for tourists.

According to our friend Marlu, the most important of the entire tourists’ sojourn is the result – the experiences – the tourists derived from their travel to the country. “The intangibles that the visitors had while in the Philippines will definitely be the basis of the feedback the returning tourists will give to their families and friends – all potential future tourists to our country.”

All these will lead to the next question, according to our friend Marlu. “Will their Philippine experience make them come back or recommend to their friends and relatives and to their fellow citizens of their country to visit and explore the beauty of the Philippines, which admittedly, the country has many?”

Our friend reminded us that loving the Philippines could be a tall order for foreign tourists – the more discerning ones. Marlu told us that it is no secret that many of the tourists had their first sad experiences right at the very gateways to the country – the international airports. It is common knowledge that the main entry airports, specifically those in Metro Manila and Clark, are known for the notoriety of immigration people, transport providers and even those who provide porter services.

Our friend added that other than the subtle harassment of some immigration personnel to the coming tourists, or even to returning overseas working Filipinos, for financial gains, airport services have lately become too egregious that these add to the inconveniences of tourists and other arrivals in the country.

Indeed, how can we ever disagree with our friend Marlu that there are plenty of ”shortfalls” in the country’s ways of giving our tourists the warmest welcome ever?  And government must do its damn best to address or correct the shortfalls. For example, where can we find a country where the supposed premier entry point for foreign travelers suddenly closed to air traffic because of a power outage or a dysfunctional radar system? And where can we (or the foreign tourists) find airports that hold the airplane from having their passengers disembark for one hour or even over after arrival because of the so-called “lightning alert.”

Then we have here airline companies either cancelling flights or moving schedules by as many as two times even if the passengers are already inside the airport queuing for the validation of their departure.

Will their unpleasant experiences along these aspects of their travel to the Philippines convince them to “Love the Philippines” and make them come back every so often?

Yes, but there must be tourists who must love the Philippines because if they don’t, then who will?

We’ll have more of our friend’s thoughts on the DOT slogan change tomorrow.



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