Waving at tour bus, blogging will help sell Philippines, says Jimenez
MANILA, Philippines—Simply waving at a passing tour bus or just being nice to a traveler you meet on the street is already a “critical job done” as selling agents of the country’s beauty.
One can even take the task a notch higher by turning to social networking sites to post blogs or viral videos to plug about what’s worth seeing in the Philippines.
Newly appointed Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr. on Monday enumerated some of the ways—from the basic to innovative ones—-how every Filipino can share in the agency’s undertaking to boost Philippine tourism.
In his first press conference with tourism beat reporters, Jimenez harped on the important role of every Filipino as “enthusiastic selling agents” in line with President Benigno Aquino III’s mantra of making tourism as “the people’s business.”
Jimenez said the new branding campaign, which was engaging at least six of the country’s largest advertising and marketing communications teams, was aimed to fill a gap: “the transformation of people into excited selling units.”
“What’s lacking is the transformation of the people. I cannot make Palawan, for example, any more beautiful than it already is …,” he said.
To further illustrate what he meant by transformation, he cited a group of young people who recently approached him and presented a plan to start a so-called “Friday Club,” in which every Friday the group would be featuring on the Internet what’s beautiful about the country.
“Can you imagine if the 22 million Filipinos on Facebook will do the same thing? We would have a media coverage that would far exceed anything Malaysia or Thailand has today … One blog each would exceed all of that. This is what I mean of transformation.”
While the new Philippine brand will set the tone, the character and the theme, Jimenez said the agency would encourage Filipinos, particularly the young ones, to make it their own and “give it their own spin.”
“If young guys want to do a viral TV spot on their own given the new theme, it’s fine,” said Jimenez.
He added, “All the biggest brands in the world own only 50 percent of the brand. The other half is owned by the consumers. In the case of the Philippine brand… when we launch the campaign, with of course the excitement that we imagine we’ll have, people will take possession of it.”
Aside from tapping social networking sites, Filipinos can go back to the basics in taking on the role of advocates of Philippine tourism.
“Waving at a tour bus when it passes, that’s one way of promoting,” he proposed, stressing that the best advertising is carried out by a satisfied customer.
An advertising executive by profession, Jimenez also illustrated the impact of direct testimonial, which he described as one of the most powerful forms of advertising, if applied in the tourism business:
“If you go down the street, to Luneta now, you will see a tourist and if you are nice to that tourist, you just have done a job that is very critical because that tourist is going to talk about his or her experience in the Philippines [and] there is a good chance that that person will come back.”
He noted that if everyone pitched in to make such “first few welcome,” the country would be spared from reinventing the number of tourist arrivals every year. The count for tourist arrivals reached 3.3 million last year.
Former Tourism Secretary Alberto Lim had announced that the agency was aiming to hit 6.5 million foreign visitors by 2016. But Jimenez said he hopes to surpass the target. “We think we can do somewhat better than that,” he said.