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Advertising executive Jimenez is new tourism secretary

/ 08:05 AM September 02, 2011

BEIJING—After weeks of speculation, President Aquino on Wednesday night announced the appointment of advertising executive Ramon Jimenez as tourism secretary.

Mr. Aquino made the announcement just as the former Tourism Secretary Alberto Lim’s resignation took effect on Aug. 31.

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“Mon Jimenez has accepted the position. He’s a marketing, advertising guy and, you know, tourism, I think is primarily a marketing effort because the product is already there,” Mr. Aquino told reporters in an informal talk after a hectic day here on Wednesday.

“There is enhancing the product that we have in the Philippines and, at the end of the day, he will be informing a lot of the citizens of the world that there are such and such sites accessible, (and) it should be visited,” the President said.

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“That will be something that he will do. He’s studying for the post, roughly about a week or so, about two weeks,” he added.

“I want to see him by next week and I assume there will be things that he has discovered, things he wants done,” he added.

Incoming Tourism Secretary Jimenez, for his part, vowed to make Philippine tourism the “people’s business” and that the country with its picturesque destinations would be “easy to sell as Chickenjoy”.

Speaking to Malacañang reporters in a press conference aired live on radio and television less than 24 hours after President Benigno Aquino III announced his appointment, Jimenez, an advertising executive, said he would “galvanize the DoT [Department of Tourism] into an honest to goodness selling unit whose “ultimate goal” would be “not only to improve statistics but also ensure that the endeavor would be fulfilling and profitable for Filipinos”.

He said that the Philippines, with its picturesque destinations, should be “as easy to sell as Chickenjoy”, referring to a food item on the menu of a popular Filipino food chain.

But in the same breath, Jimenez said that what the industry needed was a “real insight into the market place” as advertising was “not only about slogans.

He said that he intended to take off from where his predecessor Alberto Lim had left off – mount a campaign that was “truly progressive and aggressive”.

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“Campaigns are hinged on simplicity of proposition, it’s not all infrastructure but more about single mindedness of image,” he said.

He cited Mexico as an example, which is the most visited place in America, and how it was equated with tacos and ponchos.

Meanwhile, private tourism industry players welcome the appointment of Jimenez as tourism secretary.

Hans Hauri, president of Hotel Restaurant and Resorts Association of Cebu, said he liked what Jimenez was planning to do.

“I like what I hear that the distinct focus is on the beauty and treasures we possess rather than lingering on lamentations of what we don’t have,” he said.

He said this thrust puts accent on promotions but it must be accompanied by a plan to build what’s lacking in infrastructure to retain interest from the traveling market.

In an interview on Radyo Inquirer 990AM, Jaime Cura, vice president for external affairs of the Tourism Congress, said they have “eagerly looked forward to the appointment of a new secretary,”

“We place ourselves at the disposal of the new secretary. The Tourism Congress will be at his beck and call whenever he thinks he should be consulting with us on policy matters,” Cura said.

The Tourism Congress is a consultative body composed of private tourism industry players created by law to assist the tourism secretary in crafting policies and provide directions in pushing Philippine tourism.

Bobby Lim Joseph, national chairman of the National Assocation of Independent Travel Agencies (Naitas), assured Jimenez that he would get the full support of Naitas.

Joseph said he knew Jimenez’s background describing him as a visionary and another Ace Durano in the making.

Jimenez founded advertising firm, Jimenez Basic and heads the Winning Over Obstacles (WOO) Communications Corporation.

As head of Jimenez Basic, he helped build iconic brands and products of companies ranging from San Miguel Corp., Globe Telecom, Unilab, Jollibee, Chowking, Coca-Cola and Cebu Pacific, among others.  Inquirer with GMA report and Reporter Aileen Garcia-Yap

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TAGS: Alberto Lim, Benigno Aquino III, Department of Tourism, Ramon Jimenez
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