The Philippine islands: A paradise rediscovered
By DAVID CASUCO, PWD Contributing Writer
LOS ANGELES – Pristine landscape, unique culture, and a warm, welcoming and English-speaking people – these and more summed up the fascinating picture of the Philippines at the ASTA Travel and Trade show recently at the L.A. Convention Center.
Easily the most ubiquitous exhibitor in the Asian group, the Department of Philippine Tourism flaunted picture-perfect natural attractions of the islands emblazoned by the “It’s More Fun in the Philippines” catch phrase. The six-man PDoT-LA staff spearheaded by PDoT Director Mary Anne Cuevas-Lim and Emmanuel Ilagan, deserve all the glory, honor, and power. They had to walk the extra miles to promote the Philippines (more fun spells paradise over there). PDoT-LA staff responded splendidly to the exceptionally frenetic weekend. They were shuffling from the ASTA event to the local Phil-Am Expo at nearby West K Hall, where another tourism booth had to be populated. But it was the mainstream ASTA expo where the DoT was more fixated.
“The Philippine DoT-Los Angeles certainly is doing a wonderful job in North America and beyond,” observes a Fil-Am who saw a big Boracay billboard along Las Vegas Blvd. “These guys should be lauded and recognized for their great effort of promoting Philippine tourism.”
Meanwhile, there is no gainsaying that DoT’s ‘It’s more fun in the Philippines’ drive in Los Angeles got an excellent traction.
On any given day one goes around L.A., chances are one will be reminded of the sun, the sea, and the sand of the unspoiled beaches of the Philippine islands. On moving buses and light trains, a picture of people leisurely canoeing over the shallow reefs of Palawan is just as gorgeous as it is inviting. On that advertisement, the DoT’s punch line read: “Commuting. It Is More Fun in the Philippines.”
Inside the Metro trains, Philippine tourism ads are a common sight. “More Fun” billboards by the freeways and byways are as ubiquitous as the Dodger blues. And on television, “More Fun” ads appear in Mandarin, Korean, and English. Over in Santa Clarita, a county 30 miles north of L.A., a group of Fil-Am golfers were waiting to tee off for the APO monthly golf tournament. And guess what the guys are looking forward to: A golf safari in the Philippines, because playing golf is a lot more fun in the Philippines,” says Fil-Am amateur golfer Lino E.B. Pangilinan, parroting the DoT’s very popular catch phrase. “Over there you play with caddies and umbrella girls. Now, tell me why golf can’t be more fun in the Philippines.”
“It is an inspired move to vigorously push the “It’s More Fun in the Philippines” promo in the Southland using L.A. as the focal point of the campaign,” says FilAm travel/tourism writer Justin Orola. “As a journalist, I believe that where L.A. goes, so goes Southern California.”
Launched early this year, the new Philippine tourism campaign is designed to lure tourists seeking for a perfect tropical escape. In a recent interview with the Oxford Business Group, Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez said that the campaign is “the most competitive campaign that the Philippines has ever utilized. It focuses on the strengths of the Philippines as a destination. I believe that the Philippines is not just a place that has to be seen, it is a place to be experienced, because the Filipinos complete the experience.”
Jimenez added that “Filipinos are known worldwide for their capacity for caring and comfort – one need only look at the proportion of Filipinos operating in the global nursing and hospitality industries. By connecting this positive image of the Filipino to the country, we are hoping to reform the image of the Philippines abroad and to give the country’s people more of a direct connection to the success of the industry.’’
“We have set the ambitious target of 10 million visitors by 2016, which we feel is meaningful to the country’s economy,” Jimenez said.
Now that everybody seems to be jumping into the “It is more fun in the Philippines” bandwagon, it looks like the DoT has it made for this year, and that makes the job of attaining the 10 million visitors arrival target in 2016 well, a lot more fun. (The author writes travel-tourism, sports, and spirituality for the Pinoy Watchdog, examiner.com, and Mabuhay News Service. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org)