The Department of Tourism (DOT) could still reverse the foreign visitor downtrend if it would only start re-assessing its strategies of promoting the country as a tourist destination abroad, and focusing also on the domestic market.
Senator Nancy Binay said it would be best to re-direct marketing on the local market instead of spending taxpayers’ money on advertisements that are counter-productive.
“Baka pwede munang i-reassess ang strategy na instead na foreign market ang focus natin, baka pwedeng mag-concentrate din tayo sa domestic market. It’s also another growth area in terms of tourism. Sayang lang ang mga ads na pinapalabas natin kung mahihirapan lang naman tayong ibenta ang Pilipinas abroad,” Binay, the Senate Committee on Tourism chairperson, said.
The lady senator said that focusing on the domestic tourism could stem the shortfall that the country may experience due to the negative perception of the Philippines abroad.
“Di nga ba sinasabi nating huwag tayong maging banyaga sa sarili nating bansa. Maganda rin ang elemento ng ‘experience’ sa marketing campaign ng DOT pero i-address muna natin ang ‘disconnect’ sa messaging,” she added.
The lawmaker added that the DOT may have a hard time promoting the country abroad due to what is happening in the country today.
“It is our country which suffers from the negative image projected abroad. Marami na ang nag-cancel ng bookings at kaliwa’t kanan ang travel advisories dahil sa kaguluhan sa Mindanao at impression ng martial law,” the legislator said.
“Baka mas lalo lang tayo mahihirapang i-promote ang Pilipinas dahil mas matagal ang airtime at newscast tungkol sa mga nangyayari sa Pilipinas kaysa sa 30-seconder na TV commercials. Di pa kasama dyan ang mga lumalabas sa social media,” Binay said.
According to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), domestic tourism expenditure grew by 19% from PhP 1.7 trillion in 2015 to PhP 2.1 trillion in 2016.
Domestic tourism expenditure includes expenditures of resident visitors within the country either as a domestic trip or part of an international trip, the PSA said.
“Let’s explore other marketing mix and tap growing markets. Karamihan ng mga millenials ngayon ay mayroong purchasing power, naghahanap ng work-life balance, at gustong i-enjoy ang buhay. We should start unlocking the potential of the market by offering them value for their money,” Binay said.
In 2012, the National Statistics Office (NSO) said that four out of 10 Filipinos aged 15 years old and above travelled within the country.
An estimated 25.7 million Filipinos who are 15 years old and above had travelled within the country, the 2012 Household Survey on Domestic Visitors (HSDV) said.
According to the same survey, more than half or 53.7% of the domestic tourists were aged 15 to 34 years old.
The lady senator said that she would ask the DOT what the agency is doing, aside from the TV commercials and promotions abroad, to market the country.
“Magpa-file po ako ang resolusyon requesting the DOT and its agencies to present their short-, medium-, and long-term plans for tourism in the light of the current situation, travel advisories, and being tagged as one of the world’s dangerous destinations,” she said.