The government is set to roll out a rebranding of the tourism campaign after President Marcos approved a five-year plan to promote and transform the Philippines into a 'tourism powerhouse.'

At a Palace briefing yesterday, Tourism Secretary Christina Frasco said the administration would unveil the country's 'enhanced' tourism slogan in the coming weeks, which will showcase the 'heart and soul' of the Filipinos.

'But we will engage in consultation with our tourism stakeholders first, as their opinions matter to us,' Frasco told Malacañang reporters. 'We are putting forth the best of the best of the Philippines to the world because it cannot be denied that we do give the world our best, and while the DOT (Department of Tourism) has not yet come out with an enhanced tourism slogan of that as a country brand, I assure you, you'll love it.'

Earlier this month, Frasco said the DOT would come up with a tourism brand that would enhance the country's present slogan, 'It's more fun in the Philippines,' which was conceptualized during the time of the late president Benigno Aquino III.

The rebranding campaign, which was rolled out by the office of President Marcos' creative communications adviser Paul Soriano late last year, was used in an advertisement on London buses that came out during the coronation of King Charles III.

The advertisement, 'We give the world our best. The Philippines,' featured May Parsons, the Filipina-British nurse who administered the first COVID jab.

Critics have questioned the connection between vaccination and tourism, but Soriano has clarified that the ad was not meant to promote the country' tourist destinations.

Former tourism secretary Richard Gordon weighed in on the controversial advertisement promoting the Philippines in London.

In an interview with 'The Chiefs,' Gordon suggested that the advertisement should have used the tagline 'Women of Wonder: May Parsons' or 'WOW' to create a characteristic of the Filipino that can be promoted without controversy.

Gordon noted that Filipinos are known to be the best in what they do, and using them to promote the country would be a wise move.

'It's the truth. Everywhere you go there are Filipinos. They are the best in what they do,' he said.

Matec Villanueva, a marketing professor, pointed out that the advertisement was not well conceived and lacked clarity from a marketing communications point of view.

Asked if there would be a change in the country's marketing strategy, Frasco replied, 'The main change, first of all, is that the focus of the DOT will be to highlight the heart and soul of the Filipino that is evident in our culture, our festivals, our food, the local products of our small and medium enterprises, our living cultural heritage, everything that makes us diverse and unique and a proud Filipino people that gives us pride of place.'

Frasco said the proposed national tourism development plan for 2023 to 2028 is the result of consultations among the Tourism Coordinating Council and stakeholders from various regions in the country.

'We are grateful to the President for articulating early on in his administration his priority for tourism development. This has resulted in a convergence among government agencies as far as giving full support to the development of the industry, recognizing the losses that have ensued as a result of the pandemic and various calamities,' she said.

Frasco said the plan contains seven objectives that focus on essential pillars of development to give the Philippines a 'fighting chance at becoming a tourism powerhouse.'

She said the objectives involve not just promoting the Philippines but also addressing the essential issues of tourism development, including the development of infrastructure, connectivity, digitalization, equalization of tourism and promotion, enhancement of overall tourist experience and strengthening of tourism governance.

'We are excited to launch in a few weeks the Philippine experience, which gives our people an opportunity to experience not just our destinations but also re-introduce them to the heart and soul of the Filipinos through our festivals, our food and the like,' Frasco said.

Free WiFi at 94 sites

Information and Communications Secretary Ivan Uy said the government would provide free internet access in 94 tourist destinations, noting that one of the challenges in promoting Philippine tourism involves digitalization.

'Tourism Secretary Frasco provided us with the list of tourist spots that have connectivity challenges. So with that list, in a matter of months, we will be able to deploy about 46 out of the 94 destinations that will be given free internet connectivity,' Uy said.

According to Uy, putting internet connection in tourist spots would enable tourists to share their experiences and to help in the government's marketing efforts.

'Many of the tourists now are also vloggers. They vlog about their experience while enjoying the tourism sites. So it's critical that we provide them with internet connectivity,' he said.

The tourist sites to be provided with free internet access include those in Baguio City, Benguet; Bataraza, Brooke's Point, Busuanga, Coron, Culion, El Nido, Narra, Puerto Princesa, San Vicente and Taytay in Palawan; Malay in Aklan; Aleria, Badian, Bantayan, Daanbantayan, Moalboal and San Francisco in Cebu.

Frasco said the tourism industry generated P1.74 trillion from domestic and foreign tourist receipts and created 5.2 million jobs last year.

She expressed confidence that the Philippines would achieve its goal of posting 4.8 million international arrivals this year, noting that two million foreign tourists have visited the country as of May.


The Philippines is not inclined to reimpose stricter travel restrictions despite the rising COVID cases nationwide, according to Frasco.

Frasco said the DOT and all stakeholders would continue to follow the minimum public health standards to prevent the spread of the virus in tourist destinations.

'The WHO (World Health Organization) said the pandemic is over... We continue to support the Department of Health's measure as well as ensuring the safety of our fellow Filipinos,' she said.

She said President Marcos wants to continue to reopen the country for tourism, one of the hardest-hit sectors by the pandemic.

'The direction for the Philippines is forward and that is to ensure that we continue to open up the country to travel and tourism as is the direction set by our President,' she said.

The WHO on May 5 said COVID-19 is no longer a global health emergency.

Marcos earlier said the government would not change the country's COVID status following the WHO's announcement.

The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases also said it did not recommend to the President the return of the mask mandate and other pandemic restrictions even as COVID-19 cases continue to increase.

Early this month, Marcos said the government might consider the wearing of face masks mandatory again if recommended by health authorities.

Manila Mayor Honey Lacuna, however, has reinstated mandatory masking for employees and visitors at city hall.

Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong also reimposed the wearing of face masks in indoors and crowded areas.


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