The heat is still on!
“Men love their country not because it is great but because it is theirs.” – Seneca
A statement that really resonated with me when I read the book, Advertising. More Fun In The Philippines by Tony Harris. He’s the Chief Executive Officer of BBDO Guerrero, the advertising agency that gave life to one of the most, if not the only (oh the “WOW Philippines” too), successful tourism campaign the Philippines ever had. ”It’s More Fun In The Philippines” was the winning tourism campaign slogan chosen by then Sec. Ramon Jimenz Jr. and used by the Department of Tourism since 2012 to promote our country as a travel destination. And it was a hit. Even the newly appointed Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat loves this campaign and will stick to it because it works, as mentioned in several interviews. However, was the Philippines prematurely promoted as a travel destination? Or it’s just a matter of political willpower to implement such projects and laws? Or it’s more of self-discipline?
Today, a lot of our tourist destinations are in hot water, facing environmental issues, infrastructure and personnel problems, and self-gain.
The controversial statement of the current Philippine President, ”Boracay is a cesspool,” in February, prompted the recommendation of shutting down the island to rehabilitate. And it’s not only Boracay, perhaps, all the ”hot” destinations right now like Puerto Galera, Palawan islands, and Siargo island, all are facing the same issue. These past few days, aside from selfies of tourists, you’d see pictures of filthy trash in these destinations circling around social media. With the influx of tourists, most places can’t contain the garbage. The smelly reality brought by tourism.
Infrastructure and Personnel Problems.
From sewerage system to roads to medical facilities, unfortunately, some destinations lack all these. Ironically, we house some of the best islands in the world but we lack such infrastructures and personnel to take good care of the people who patronize our beloved islands. Well ok, the Philippines is a third world country, fine, but the fact that Boracay is shutting down just because of the President’s order, we can implement projects and laws in time! Also, a story that went viral recently on social media about a newscaster’s son who got in an accident while surfing in Siargao. In 24hrs there’s a First Aid Team stationed outside Cloud 9, Siargao. I’m pretty sure all infrastructure projects are included in the yearly budget plan of our government so better yet spend it where it’s allocated. Just saying.
We’ve seen in the news that some establishments clearly violated laws like zoning law because they want to earn. Or a taxi driver talking his way to charge more instead of relying on the meter. Even ride-hailing app drivers asking to double the fare. Or tourists harming animals just for that perfect Instagram photo. The end does not justify the means people. It’s not always about the bottom line. Also, there’s more of the world than social media.
So, is it still fun?
Let’s look into historical data, from 4.2M in 2012 to 5.9M in 2016 inbound tourists, then grew to 6.6M in 2017, then you can say it’s indeed fun! Yet, it can still grow exponentially and can be sustained if the government and stakeholders address the said issues. However, there had been some hiccups in the Tourism department which led to change in leadership. So, what’s the plan now? As per the new secretary,
“we will prioritize improving policies on access, connectivity, and security as well as enhance programs on tourism infrastructure,”
while at the Commission on Appointments (CA) committee hearing at Senate Building, Pasay City, last May 29,2018. This means to faithfully pursue the mandate of the Republic Act 9593 / Tourism Act of 2009. Review the implementation of the National Tourism Development Plan 2016-2022. And to work hand-in-hand with the other agencies to transform Boracay, the world-famous island “into a champion of sustainable and responsible tourism,” said by Sec. Puyat.
Then, given her background, as a government executive of the Department of Agriculture, DOT will be pursuing more of Farm and Food Tourism. via
“My advocacy on food, farmers, and farming will play a major part in my full entry into tourism.” – Sec. Bernadette Romulo-Puyat
Sounds fun and delish to me!
My Take Away.
I never really mentioned why I’m into travel blogging of sorts or why do I care so much about this industry. I majored in Tourism and Transportation in college and by profession, I’m a travel agent/counselor/adviser whatever you want to call it. Then, I tagged along with a travel photographer before venturing into my own adventures. Though I NEVER planned on doing any of those at all, I learned to LOVE it. Being a travel professional gave me a good understanding of the travel industry as a whole. Then travel photography and writing gave way for me to understanding travel on a personal level. As I make my way around the Philippines, it also gives me the freedom to learn more about our country on ways I never would’ve imagined. Though it’s not always pretty! But hey, the rawness of travel is what makes it worth taking and leaving the good behind. So, do you like to travel fun and delish?