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Philippine tourism marred by ‘negative’ global perception, DOT chief says

Rosette Adel - Philstar.com
Philippine tourism marred by ânegativeâ global perception, DOT chief says

In this February 2017 photo, Tourism Secretary Wanda Corazon Teo leads discussions on cruise tourism, security, urban renewal with Metro Manila Mayors. DOT, file

MANILA, Philippines — Tourism Secretary Wanda Corazon Teo said “negative” global perception adversely affects the Philippine tourism.

Teo said Philippines is among the top consideration of foreign visitors because of its attractive islands and because it is a practical travel destination. However, she said global perception affects its tourist arrivals.

The DOT chief cited that among the factors affecting the number of tourist arrivals is “the perception that the Philippines is a center of natural calamities such as typhoons, flashfloods and earthquakes.”  DOT Undersecretary Alma Rita Jimenez,on the other hand, cited climate change as a factor.

Teo added that the Marawi crisis and peace and order threat especially in the southern part of the country is also among the problems being faced by the tourism sector.

she said the escalating conflict in Marawi City prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to declare martial law in the whole of Mindanao through Proclamation No 216 but this also earned negative perception from tourists.

“Despite the overwhelming support the president received from the southern local and regional communities plus the personal testimonies of our southern kababayans that all is well, that the government's move actually provides stability, the global perception is still global perception was very very vague,” Teo said during the Tourism Crisis Management Symposium held last December 12.

Teo then urged the tourism stakeholders to help improve the global perception to help the country’s tourism. She said they should advocate in making Philippines a “safe haven” for tourists.

“We cannot blame those who are outside looking in if the international community perception is one with chaos and instability. It is our duty as stakeholders of this nation to figure out how we can correct this misconception,” Teo said.

“This is why crisis management much like sustainability is our shared responsibility,” she added.

Former DOT chief and DILG chief Rafael Alunan III agreed with Teo saying P.E.S.T.E. or the Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Environmental issues are adversely affecting Philippine tourism and are contributing the global perception.

“The perception also tends to view that as long that crisis is there, it's not safe for tourists to be there,” Alunan said during the symposium.

EON CEO & Chair Junie Del Mundo also cited this year’s Marawi Siege and 2010 Manila Hostage crisis as crises which gained negative media mileage and affected country’s tourism.

Is media at fault in global perception?

Alunan, Public Relations practioners, and the national security stakeholders said media play a key role in building the negative global perception.

Philippine Tour Operators Association President Cesar Cruz, however, disagreed into blaming the media regarding the global perception. He said media is not at fault because it is the people and government that feed them reports.

Cruz said issues such as natural disasters are not solely happening in the Philippines making these issues a worldwide concern.

“We cannot totally blame the media because the media –they’re there to actually come up with reports. Sa atin din nanggaling ito –sa government… sa private sectors (These are coming from us—government, private sectors,” Cruz said, referring to information being fed to the press.

Cruz emphasized that the concerned sectors should provide the immediate and right information the media to avoid gaining negative perception.

He also cited that the prolonged martial law in Mindanao is among the government policies that affect the perception in the country.

“The word ‘martial law’ has a very negative perception. It connotes something else [as well as]the reason [why] there is a martial law but prolonged martial law [gives] a different perspective,” Cruz said.

Last March, Teo also asked the members of the media to "tone down" reports on so-called extrajudicial killings to help boost tourism in the country. She said negative reports such as killings makes it harder for her agency to entice visitors.

RELATED: DOT chief to media: Tone down reports on killings to boost tourism

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