I have a good feeling that the phrase my Filipino friends and I often use in promoting the unique beauty and wonders of my home country to my Chinese friends would become the official slogan of the Department of Tourism (DOT). “仅在菲律宾 Jin Zai Fei Lu Bin” in Chinese Mandarin or “Only in the Philippines” in English, I heard, is now being considered by the Department of Tourism to become its campaign slogan to rival our regional competitors’ “Malaysia, Truly Asia”, “Amazing Thailand, Miracle Thailand”, “Remarkable Indonesia” and “Uniquely Singapore”.
Mr. Willy Arcilla, Founder and President of Business Mentors Inc. and author of “Marketing and Advertising with a Conscience” articulated his proposed tourism slogan “Only in the Philippines” in the November 5 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer. Mr. Arcilla explained:
“We will never achieve a quantum leap of growth in foreign tourists or dollar receipts without first achieving a quantum leap in our patriotism and love for our countrymen. We cannot expect to attract foreign visitors to our country if we ourselves continue to leave our country in droves. Before we expect others to fall in love with our country, we must first rekindle our love for her. This is a must to the success of any human endeavor. No one can sell what he or she does not love. We need to engender a sense of patriotism among our ourselves, our families and our own countrymen. Patriotism will motivate us to invest in the “HEARTS” of successful tourism – Hospitality and Hotels + Enjoyable Experiences + Airports and Airplanes + Roads and RORO Bridges + Tour Packages and clean Toilets + Safety and Security.
“Only in the Philippines” is a familiar line often quoted by locals and foreigners alike to capture the unbelievable sense of exasperation and frustration over a country that has been blessed with abundant beauty and a people imbued with nobility, yet shamelessly exploited by dynasties of “trapos” and greedy oligarchs. Yet perhaps it is also the best line to use to at once drive local and foreign tourism, rekindle patriotism and unify a divided nation. It can be argued and it cannot be denied there is also so much natural beauty and goodness that can be found “Only in the Philippines. The same line arouses curiosity among new prospects (there are 1 billion tourists globally) most of whom have never been to our shores. “What can be found ‘Only in the Philippines’”? It reinforces the experience of past visitors who can attest to our uniqueness, while presenting new, varied experiences. It is simple and memorable, specific and unique.
Another good thing I can see in the slogan and in the campaign of “Only in the Philippines” is that it can be easily adapted and be integrated by our various ethno-linguistic regions and provinces. Hence, we can say for example “Only in Ilocos – Only in the Philippines” as it showcases Vigan, in Ilocos Sur, Pagudpud Beach and Fort Ilocandia in Laoag. The Banaue Rice Terraces, Mt. Pulag and La Trinidad Valley beckon with “Only in Benguet – Only in the Philippines.” In promoting the majestic Mayon Volcano, CamSur wakeboarding, pristine Caramoan, Pacific Ocean surfing in Daet’s Bagasbas Beach, we can say “Only in Bicol – Only in the Philippines.” We can say “Only in Panay – Only in the Philippines” as we showcase “Ati-Atihan” and the paradise island of Boracay. We can say “Only in Palawan – Only in the Philippines” as we talk about Tubbataha Reef and the world’s longest Subterranean River, one of the seven new wonders of nature. In addition, in the process of highlighting the great tourists spots in our provinces and regions, we can also spur the growth and development of local entrepreneurship as envisioned in the “One Town-One Product” (OTOP) program of our government. Indeed, tourism breeds employment and entrepreneurship.
While I absolutely agree that mere sloganeering and cheer-leading are not enough to push our tourism industry to its full potential, and there are other myriad issues (i.e. public infra and peace & order) involve in boosting our tourism industry, Mr. Arcilla’s “Only in the Philippines” and SHAPES paradigm coupled by DOT’s sincere efforts and initiatives are commendable steps to improve our tourism industry. While I also agree that we are still far behind our regional competitors’ successful tourism drive and in local parlance “marami pa tayong kakaining bigas”, I still believe that many places in our home country are beautiful, enchanting and worthy to share and promote to our foreign and local friends. I don’t mean to tap myself at the back but it is my confidence in our country that I’ve convinced several Chinese citizens to not just visit and tour the Philippines but to actually retire and enjoy their sunset years in the tropical islands. I know so many Manila-based Filipino naysayers and experts in finger-pointing but whenever I asked them “Ikaw, ilan na ba ang nahikayat mong turista sa Pilipinas?” most of the answer I get is not a direct answer to a simple question. At the end of the day, boosting tourism in the Philippines is everybody’s business. In the words of my fellow ProPinoy writer Ms. Nina Terol-Zialcita “We’ve got to get our acts together–and we’ve got to move as a “tourism country”.
P.S. If you are interested to have a powerpoint copy of Mr. Willy Arcilla’s “Patrio-tourism and Only in the Philippines” just e-mail me at [email protected] Willy send me a copy of the .ppt file and I’d be glad to share it to you as well.
Image credit: oursurprisingworld.com/philippines