Being a member of the board of the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), Philippines State Secretary for Tourism Ramon R. Jimenez Jr took the opportunity to highlight and analyse the success of the Philippines campaign “It is more fun in the Philippines”. Prior of being named as head of tourism, Jimenez used to be vice-president and executive creative director at Ace-Saatchi & Saatchi advertising agency in Manila.
TravelDailyNews: Why is the Philippines campaign different of other campaigns in the region?
Ramon R. Jimenez: First of all I think that our campaign bears a different message. We do not look at our visitors as a passive viewer. Our idea is not come and watch the Philippines but come and join in. I think also that our message is authentic in the sense that we decided to only advert what we have, nothing else. And the best asset of our country is above all our people. Filipino people will all make the difference and will be at the heart of traveller’s experience.
TDN: How far are Filipino people different of other people in the region?
R.J.: I think it all hangs at the way we look at people. We dislike foreigners as we immediately consider them as a friend. Spend a week in the Philippines and you start to feel part of the country, part of the people. One month and you probably end up with a new family!! This is the way Filipinos are. They have a genuine sense of welcoming people and make them feeling at ease.
TDN: Are you happy with the success of the “It is more fun in the Philippines campaign”?
R.J.: I am extremely happy indeed. Because we face an incredible phenomenon in social media, which are today the most efficient tool of communication. The campaign has 300 facebook community sites with locals posting photos and comments of their trips in the Philippines. Our slogan now is in all heads. First word said about our country now is that it is fun. A term and concept that anyone around the world easily understand! And finally, all the Filipinos embraced the slogan. We had 7.49 million of Filipinos following our website and campaign. Which means all Filipinos are becoming ambassadors of our country.
TDN: Despite the success, most foreign travellers, when asked about a holiday in Asia, still do not spontaneously name the Philippines. Why?
R.J.: We still have to work a lot to let the message spread. But we bear a very heavy legacy. For decades, the Philippines hit only the news for negative reasons. They were no information, no serious communication campaign from authorities to change the image and tell something more positive about our country. We still have a long way to go but we took the right way. At least the “merchandising” as well as the content for the promotion of the Philippines is there. We in fact addressed also other important elements to attract travellers such as facilitating air connections or building up infrastructures.
TDN: Are now local and national politicians aware of the benefits of promoting the Philippines?
R.J.: I spend lots of time to explain our political world how tourism is an inclusive way to bring prosperity and jobs all across our 7,000 islands. We now find jobs in the most isolated islands linked to tourism. Tourism is really a mesmerizing activity which easily can spread out and reach a lot of people. I believe that politicians now realize it in our country.
TDN: Is quantity a target for Philippines tourism?
R.J.: Numbers are important of course but they are not the only criteria that we should look at. I would rather speak about acceptability of tourism. As long as locals do not feel exlucded or at disadvantages and can still access to the same attractions, entertainments than tourists, then it is perfect…