Did you have any idea? I sure didn’t! I only found out about a week ago, or so, but I was very happy.
Oh, you don’t know what I’m talking about, right? Well, if you remember, last week, I wrote about the new “Immigration Superbody” and I talked about how it was very difficult for a foreign tourist to be able to book a trip to the Philippines, get his hotels and domestic travel all booked up and such. Well, while doing research for that article, I found out about something that really surprised me and gave me some hope for Philippine tourism!
The thing that I didn’t know is that National Geographic has included the Philippines as one of “The 25 best new trips for 2010.” Wow! National Geographic has clout, and is widely read, and having them say that the Philippines is one of the top 25 best new places to go this year is quite an honor, and it is also something that the Department of Tourism should capitalize on!
Now, the exact trip that the National Geographic is promoting is a trip up in Luzon, where people will trek from Banaue (the place where the famous Rice Terraces are located) down to the island of Calibao. While this is not the exact trip that I would choose to take, hey, we are all different. I am just so very happy to see the Philippines finally included in a list like this one in National Geographic.
In the National Geographic article, they point out that the Philippines has a big problem in tourism:
The Philippines has a PR problem. While it harbors as many islands as the Caribbean and some of the most spectacular reefs on the planet, the nation sees only a fraction of the visitors of nearby Thailand. Even travel companies, it seems, have bought the bad rap: Other than the occasional sea kayaking trip, U.S. guides have largely avoided the archipelago.
Yes, those words are direct from National Geographic. Some of the most spectacular reefs on the planet? I live in the Philippines and I didn’t even know that myself!
But, will the Department of Tourism capitalize on this? In my mind, it is doubtful, but I hope they do. How can they capitalize? Well, they need to immediately put together an advertising campaign to attract more visitors to the country. They need to get on the TV, on International stations, and run ads promoting travel to the country! Much like you see for Malaysia (Malaysia… truly Asia), India (Incredible India) and other countries are doing. The Philippines is mysteriously absent from such tourism promotion.
One of the big problems for tourism in the Philippines is that the country gets an undeserved, in my opinion, rap that the place is dangerous. “You’re gonna get kidnapped or killed if you go to the Philippines!” That’s just crazy. Do bad things happen to tourists here? Sure, from time to time they do. But, things like that happen in Thailand, Malaysia, India and even in the USA to tourists. The Philippine Department of Tourism needs to advertise and tell people that “Even National Geographic says that the Philippines is one of the top destinations for 2010!” Why not? There will be no better opportunity than having your country featured as one of the top destinations where people should travel this year!
Come on, Philippines, let’s make it happen. I personally have been promoting this country, and especially the island of Mindanao, on the Internet for more than a decade now. And, I know of a lot of peopel who have visited here, and even come here to live, due to my efforts to promote the country. Now is the perfect opportunity for the country to drop the attitude that it’s not as good as other tourist spots, and start promoting the place as a world class destination! Even National Geographic says that it is, after all!
But, it is also important to remember that it takes more an a TV commercial or two! Last week, I told you about the problems with booking a hotel room, or buying an airline ticket over the Internet. These things need to be fixed too! It can be done too. Frankly, it will cost a lot less for the country to get it’s tourism on the Internet than it will cost to run just one or two TV ads! It takes work, and it takes dedication, though. So far, the Department of Tourism has not shown an interest or an inclination to do the things needed to make the Philippines a tourism hot spot!
Let’s see if it can happen now that National Geographic is telling people to come and see what they are missing in the Philippines!