Over this past weekend, I got a little shock. I was watching the news on TV and saw a tourism ad for the Philippines. On the ad, they promoted a new tourism website that I was not aware of, so I visited. This is a website owned and operated by the Philippine Government Department of Tourism.
As I looked at the website, I found it OK, although certainly not spectacular. But, further surprises were yet to be found. On the site, I clicked on “Travel Links” and it has links to other sites operated by the Department of Tourism. I had already visited all of these sites regularly, but one I had not visited for a while. The site that I went to visit now was “WowPinoy“. Like all of the other Department of Tourism sites, I found it to be OK, but nothing spectacular. Down on the bottom left side of the WowPinoy site, there is a banner that says you can discuss “anything under the sun” about the Philippines at the WowPinoy Forum. This sounded interesting, so I decided to go take a look and see what kinds of discussions they were having. After all, I might see some stuff there that would make for interesting columns here on LiP.
Well, I did find something interesting, very interesting. Not good, but interesting.
When you go to the WowPinoy forum (I am not going to link to it because of the content, but if you follow the path that I have laid out here you can get there to check it out), you are greeted with a LOT of discussions. None of them are of any interest, though. They are all for SPAM, and particularly for hard core pornography.
Now, I know what is going on there, spammers are using the forum to post up this kind of content. However, these posts go back months and months. If the Department of Tourism wants to have this kind of site to promote tourism in the Philippines, they need to have employees monitoring their site and removing such items. And, I mean there are thousands of such advertisements. They range from online drug purchases to porn videos and such. Is this what the Philippine Government wants to promote about the Philippines? I think not. Why is nobody policing the WowPinoy forums?
One problem with the way that the Department of Tourism is doing this also is that they have so many websites for tourism in the Philippines. There are like a dozen different sites. Why don’t they concentrate all of the information into one good site instead of a dozen mediocre sites? Somebody in the government doesn’t understand the Web, and they don’t understand Branding. Throw on top of that the fact that they are sponsoring public forums that are full of nothing but porn and spam, and you have a problem for the Philippine Government!
In addition to the WowPinoy forum, I have also discovered that the Official Davao City Forum, which is owned and operated by the Davao City Government is also filled with Porn and Spam. Is nobody minding the store on these official government sites?
No wonder tourism to the Philippines is never what it should be. It certainly is not being promoted properly. In fact, this incident that I outlined here makes me feel sick.