May 31, 2011

Telcos invest P75M in tourism

SMART Communications Inc., and Globe Telecom Inc. are investing a total P75 million this year to support the various marketing campaigns of the Department of Tourism (DOT) to boost domestic travel and foreign tourist arrivals.

This developed as Tourism Secretary Alberto A. Lim told a press briefing on Monday that the Philippines was on track in attracting more tourists this year, with projected arrivals to exceed the 3.52 million in 2010.

He said the DOT has tied up with Smart for a P50-million domestic tourism campaign dubbed “Pilipinas, Tara Na.” Under the program, Smart and the DOT have jointly produced print and TV advertisements and billboards focusing on the country’s culture, history, ecotourism, nature and adventure.

“The growth of domestic tourism has been fantastic,” Lim said. Of the P912-billion gross income earned by the economy in 2009, for instance, he said, “P800 billion came from domestic tourism. So we want to give more emphasis to domestic tourism now than in the past.”

He said the budget air fares were possibly behind the jump in the number of domestic travelers, making travel possible for even the youth.

Under the “Pilipinas, Tara Na” campaign, Smart subscribers will also be able to text a number to get information to whichever tourist destination they are currently located at.

The DOT has also partnered with Globe for an international marketing campaign as part of the agency’s Pinoy Homecoming program this year. “This is an international promotion to bring back overseas Filipinos mostly from the US. Part of Globe’s budget is to give arriving tourists a goody bag that includes Globe SIM card, discount coupon and others,” Lim added.

Of its P25-million budget for the program, Globe will also be creating TV commercials that will air on The Filipino Channel “to promote the program to the overseas Filipinos, especially those from the US,” explained DOT Assistant Secretary Domingo Ramon C. Enerio III.

To boost this program, the DOT has requested President Aquino to sign a proclamation to declare 2011-16 as Pinoy Homecoming years. “This way, it will be a continuing program to encourage balikbayan from the US to come home and avail themselves of various discounts and promotions by hotels, restaurants, and other tourism establishments,” he added.

While the DOT has started marketing the program to Filipino-Americans, Enerio said the succeeding years will target Filipinos in Europe, the Middle East and Asia as well.

Lim also said the DOT has endorsed the tourism advocacy campaign of personal health-care company Johnson& Johnson called “Basta Pinas,” which was launched in March. “Their web site will feature conversations about tourism sites and getting the public to explore the Philippines with fresh perspectives.”

Meanwhile, Lim said visitor arrivals from January to April 2011 jumped a substantial 13.3 percent, to 1.31 million.

“By reaching this figure in the first four months of the year alone, our 3.74-million target for the year is well within reach. Our continuing efforts on the international front, especially in trade fairs abroad, will ensure that the target is met,” he said.

According to data from the DOT, tourists from Korea topped the arrivals at 286,018, up by 28.35 percent from the same period last year. They were followed by tourists from the United States at 229,200 visitors; Japan at 129,223; China 71,113; Australia, 56,681; Taiwan, 55,662; Canada, 44,978; Singapore, 42,680; Hong Kong 39,535; and United Kingdom, 36,980.

Tourists from Korea, the U.S., and Japan accounted for close to half of the arrivals in the four-month period.

(My piece was originally published in the BusinessMirror, May 31, 2011. Tourist arrivals data courtesy Dept. of Tourism.)

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