A new branding campaign to sell the Philippines to the world is in the works and will be ready before Christmas.
Newly appointed Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez said that all it needs is a catchy slogan.
Jimenez told the Senate finance subcommittee scrutinizing his department’s P4 billion proposed budget for 2012 that his other major plan is to involve all Filipinos in the effort to attract tourists.
“There are many well-meaning suggestions as to what the slogan should be. Even journalists are giving their inputs. We’re getting strong encouragement and inspiration from interested people,” Jimenez told reporters in Filipino in an ambush interview after the Senate hearing.
He refused to elaborate, however.
“Bear with us about our plans,” Jimenez earlier told members of the subcommittee. “We will show you when our new branding campaign (is ready). The possibilities are very real and well within our grasp. Our best estimate is in about two months, we will be ready to talk to people about our new campaign,” he assured.
This prompted subcommittee chairman Senator Ralph Recto to say he expects something “better than Chickenjoy,” a popular fast-food product whose promotion was handled by Jimenez’s own advertising agency.
“The lack of money has never been a serious obstacle for…Filipinos,” Jimenez said, noting his department’s relatively small budget.
“We are creative. I said (during a meeting with Department of Tourism officials) that the Thais, the Malaysians are already worried because of what we are about to do in tourism,” Jimenez said.
“We have beaten them before with a whole lot less in resources and we can do it again,” Jimenez added.
Jimenez also said the effort to lure travelers also requires the concerted effort of all Filipinos who need to believe in the product first.
“Tourism is a national activity. I cannot overstate the importance of Filipinos talking about it on Facebook. Brag about your country, talk about it. Sometimes, it is one’s face that betrays whether you have confidence in your country. We must not be squeamish about competing with the rest of Asia. Selling is a delicate exercise and it shows on your face if you do not believe it,” he explained.
In its presentation, the Department of Tourism said it plans to attract 4.1 million foreign and domestic tourists next year and earn P1.2 billion from tourism-related industries. Hopefully, the increase in arrivals would generate jobs for 4.4 million Filipinos.
Tourism Undersecretary Daniel Corpuz said the Philippines had a measly 3 percent share of the 3.5 million tourists that went to Southeast Asia in 2010.
A tourist in the Philippines spends $700 on the average and stays 8.2 nights in the country. Koreans constitute the biggest market.