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‘More Fun in the Philippines’ no more

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New tourism campaign to cost PhP650-M

It’s no longer more fun in the Philippines.

Well, at least when it comes to the tourism campaign, as last week, reports came out that McCann Worldgroup Philippines would be in charge of conceptualizing the country’s new tourism campaign. According to multiple reports, McCann, which won the bid to be the DOT’s advertising and promotions partner for a year, will have PhP650 (US$13.2) million to work with.

“The PhP650 million, that’s not only for the tagline itself. The PhP650 million is inclusive of all the media placements from all over the world,” Tourism undersecretary for advocacy and public affairs Katherine de Castro was quick to explain. “The production of commercials, billboards, radio jingles, if there’s any, even the design of the website are part of the PhP650 million.

De Castro also pointed out that neighboring countries like Thailand have a bigger budget for their tourism campaigns. She likewise mentioned that the Philippine tourism industry is responsible for 10 percent of the country’s GDP.

As noted by a CNN Philippines report, the Philippines’ tourism budget in 2016 of US$75 million is exponentially less than countries like China (US$292 billion) and South Korea (US$25 billion). Curiously, the Department of Budget and Management slashed the Tourism Department’s budget from US$75 million in 2016 to US$50 million for 2017.

As a note, the Philippines had five million international tourist arrivals in 2015. Meanwhile, Southeast Asian neighbors Thailand had 29.8 million; Malaysia 25 million; while city-state Singapore had 12 million.

Lack in translation

The Department of Tourism (DOT) points to a Nielsen study conducted from March to April of this year as the reason for the change. The study found that the slogan, while well liked, failed to translate to tourist arrivals. According to the study, 65 percent of respondents from the European market liked the slogan “It’s More Fun in the Philippines,” but only 26 percent intended to visit. The trend was the same in North America, where 72 percent liked the campaign, but only 45 percent expressed interest in coming to the Philippines.

The DOT, under then Secretary Ramon Jimenez, launched the “It’s More Fun in the Philippines” campaign in 2012. It was widely regarded as the most successful campaign of the DOT. In June of this year, it won bronze at brand campaign award-giving body – Asia-Pacific Tambuli Awards 2016. It also edged companies from Australia, Pakistan and India for the “Best of the Decade” category—an honor to the most outstanding campaigns from 2005-2015.

Change concerns

Tourism stakeholders expressed concerns when new Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo revealed plans to introduce a new campaign slogan last August. As reported by the Philippine Star, Cebu Tour Association of Tour Operators president Edilberto Mendoza Jr. said that it would be difficult for the country to start introducing another slogan to the international market again.

Teo also admitted that a United Nations World Tourism Organization official told her that the current campaign is already a good slogan and questioned the need to change it, suggesting instead to just “upscale” it.

“Rest assured, it will still connote the fun part of the Philippines, but we will be more specific. We would also be more focused on the experiences that tourists can have when they come to the Philippines,” de Castro said.

Last October, when asked about reports that killings brought about by President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs were scaring off tourists, Teo disagreed.

“There’s still an increase in tourist arrivals,” Teo was quoted in a CNN Philippines report. “Tourists still come in spite of that, so for me, it has not been affected.”

According to the DOT, they are on track to reach six million tourist arrivals for 2016, having reached the 3.8-million mark last July.

As noted by the report, tourism revenues increased by nearly 10.5 percent from a year ago to PhP21.2 billion, with Koreans bringing in six billion of that total.

 

By TIMOTHY JAY IBAY

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