Since Noynoy Aquino became President of the Philippines, the new Secretary of Tourism has been Mr. Alberto Lim. Lim is the former Director of the Makati Business Club, a very prestigious group for businessmen. Without a doubt, Secretary Lim has the credentials to be a first class Secretary of Tourism for the Philippines.
Over the past month or so, I have seen Secretary Lim participating in a number of interviews on various news programs on TV. I am not just talking about quick 30 second sound bites, rather 30 minute or even 1 hour interview shows where topics can be really covered in-depth.
I must say that in some ways, I have been impressed by Secretary Lim, but in other ways I have felt disappointed by his performance in these interviews.
What impresses me? Well, frankly, the most impressive thing I see when I see Secretary Lim is his excitement about bringing more tourism to the Philippines. Lim, without a doubt, has a passion for the Philippines. You can see it in his eyes and the excitement in his voice when he talks about trying to increase tourism here in the Philippines. Nobody can say that Secretary Lim is not excited, or that he doesn’t want to succeed.
What disappoints me? My biggest disappointment is that I feel like Lim is trying too hard to impress, and by trying too hard, he sometimes says things that are incorrect. As an example of this, I was watching Lim being interviewed by Karen Davila on ANC News Channel the other day. Mr. Lim told Karen that he knows that people want to see the Philippines advertise tourism on CNN where other big players are advertising. A discussion started up about a commercial that India shows on CNN to promote tourism. The India campaign is called “Incredible India”. Mr. Lim then said (I am paraphrasing now):
We have the talent to do a campaign that good. After all, the Incredible India campaign and commercial was done by Filipinos!
Karen acted surprised (as I was), and said, “Oh really?” Lim traded words with Karen, and in the end, when Karen asked, “Did Filipinos really do that commercial for Incredible India?” Lim replied, “Well, I’m really not sure, that’s what I heard… maybe it’s an urban legend.”
Well, honestly, I do not think that India outsourced their tourism campaign to the Philippines. It makes no sense, because that is something you would certainly want to do “in country” to get the flavor of your country in your tourism ads. I would guess, myself, that there is less than 1% chance that Filipinos did the Incredible India campaign. So, because of his excitement, I believe that Secretary Lim misspoke. Over the time that I have seen Lim on interview shows, I have seen him misspeak a number of times, so it’s not just a one time accident, but seems to be a pattern.
When asked what the plans are for increasing Philippine tourism, Lim has been a bit dodgy and doesn’t want to give an answer. For over a month, I keep hearing him say “wait and see” and “we have a surprise” and such. Well, let’s get on with it. Get it done and announce it.
My biggest problem, though, is that when Lim gives hints about what the DoT (Department of Tourism) has up it’s sleeve, I feel that they are going to be aiming way off from where the target should be, in my opinion. The Philippines has a lot of things already that can attract tourists, but there are a lot of obstacles in the way, many of which are very easy and inexpensive to fix. Fixing those easy and cheap things should be a priority, but it never has been.
On the most recent interview with Lim that I watched, he was asked about his budget. Lim revealed that he has been given a budget of P100 million to turn things around and get tourists to the Philippines. His short term goals are to get 3.3 Million tourists to the Philippines this year, 3.6 Million in 2011, and in 5 years to reach 6 Million tourists. P100 million? That’s only about $2.5 Million. That is not much money to do some of the things I see Lim mentioning. He mentioned TV advertising, and that will cost a lot more than $2.5M for any kind of decent TV campaign. But, like I said earlier, there are some easy to fix problems that would be cheap to fix. Spend the P100M on those things instead of on TV campaign and such. As more tourism comes into the country from fixing the easy stuff, then more can be spent for big budget items.
So, what am I talking about on the “cheap and easy” fixes? I am going to be writing about some of those things in future articles, over the next couple of weeks. Without a doubt, fixing the failed tourism promotion in the Philippines is a good way to lift up the country, bring employment to the people, and generally improve the Philippines.
I am not trying to be hard on Secretary Lim. As I said, I like a lot of what he has to say. He has the right attitude, and excitement that should be in a Tourism Secretary. I want to see him succeed, without a doubt! I’ll be talking more about that in future articles. For now, I’ll just say – Good luck Secretary Lim.