Marcos reaffirms support for DOT campaign

Alexis Romero - The Philippine Star
Marcos reaffirms support for DOT campaign
The Department of Tourism announces its new campaign slogan on June 27, 2023.
Philstar.com / Rosette Adel

MANILA, Philippines — President Marcos affirmed his support for the country’s tourism development plan as the Department of Tourism (DOT) faced criticism from a lawmaker over the exclusion of Mayon Volcano in its promotional video.

In a tweet posted last Wednesday, Marcos greeted the DOT on its 50th anniversary and lauded the agency for promoting the country’s tourism industry well.

“There are countless reasons to #LoveThePhilippines! Together, let us become ambassadors and influencers of tourism in our country,” Marcos said.

“Muli nating pinagtibay ang buong suporta ng administrasyon sa National Tourism Development Plan na naglalayong gawing isang tourism powerhouse ang Pilipinas (The administration affirms its support to the National Tourism Development Plan, which aims to transform the Philippines into a tourism powerhouse),” he added.

Marcos posted the tweet on the same day Albay Rep. Joey Salceda expressed
 disappointment over the exclusion of Mayon Volcano, a tourist attraction in Bicol, in the DOT’s promotional video. The video was played during the launch of the country’s new tourism branding “Love the Philippines” last Tuesday.

“I remain disappointed in my friend, (Tourism) Secretary (Christina) Frasco, for the exclusion of Mayon Volcano in the new official tourism video of the Philippines,” Salceda said in a statement. “Secretary Frasco, ask all your predecessors in the DOT. Mayon deserved better treatment. You failed Albay – but this can be rectified.”

The DOT campaign includes targets like the promotion of regional products, building more infrastructures for ease of travel, and championing green movements. The plans are outlined in the National Tourism Development Plan for 2023 to 2028 approved last March.

After launching the “Love the Philippines” campaign, the DOT assured the public that government is trying to resolve the issues related to the tourism industry. Some netizens were quick to criticize it, pointing out the deficiencies in tourism-related services that include flight delays and sudden cancellations.

Frasco said the DOT sympathizes with the “riling public” and that the agency has collaborated with the Department of Transportation by “presenting suggestions as to how the overall tourism experience can improve.”

Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri, who also got stressed at the airport after a working visit abroad, suggested “Why not improve our infrastructure and airport first?”

“I love it! It was okay,” Zubiri said of the new slogan, but quickly added: “I love the Philippines! But I don’t love the airport… I like the tourism slogan. But for me, the image of the Philippines will only improve if the facilities improve. It’s really the experience, not the imaging.”

For her part, Sen. Grace Poe, who chairs the Senate public services committee, agreed that making travelers’ experience easier is a better way to attract tourists.

“We recognize the efforts of the DOT to inspire travelers to visit and relish in the country’s natural beauty and unique culture. But catchy tourism slogans must not be thwarted by cringe-worthy travelers’ experience,” Poe said.

For Deputy Speaker Ralph Recto, problems like recurring power outages in the country’s gateways like airports and repeated delays in massive infrastructure projects may only make matters worse for the government that is trying to boost its tourism industry.

“Airport, infrastructure can negate tourism brand. For tourists, the Philippines’ major draw are sun, sights, sea and shopping… A slogan by itself is not a powerful lure that will prompt a traveler to pack up and go, unless it fully captures our many splendored attractions. It is only as effective as what it is marketing,” Recto declared.

He added that such “catchy and clever” catchphrases “instantly evaporate in the heat of a congested airport, in road traffic which does not move, in restrooms which cannot be found.”

The “Love the Philippines” campaign also found support in Manila with its mayor, Honey Lacuna-Pangan, revealing that “tourism hubs” in the capital city are already in the pipeline.

For Mayor Jerry Treñas of Iloilo City, the Love The Philippines campaign could go beyond the “Wow Philippines” or “It’s More Fun in the Philippines.”

Treñas added that Iloilo – known as the City of Love – would be launching its own slogan but will initially adopt the tagline “My Heart Beats in Iloilo City.”

In Region 4-B, the Department of Public Works and Highways also finished the tourism-related concreting and expansion of two roads in Oriental Mindoro to boost access to two emerging tourist destinations in the island.

Gerald Pacanan, DPWH Region 4-B regional director, said the paving of the 253.7-lineal meter access road leading to Twin Panton Cave and Bamboo Plantation located in Gloria town now offers smooth travel to tourists. – Ghio Ong, Marc Jayson Cayabyab, Delon Porcalla, Rainier Allan Ronda, Jennifer Rendon

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