Pilipinas Kay Ganda and Wow Philippines: Talaga?
The Pacquaio-Margarito fight is over. The traffic in the roads of Manila are back – after 3 hours of stoppage. After the euphoria of victory, life is back with a vengeance. Traffic, brown out, water outage, dirty streets, uncollected trash, mulcting cops, the inefficient procedures are back. These inconveniences which we consider as “normal” are very often not the norm. Thus while the Aquino feels that travel advisories are unfair, fair or not, the numbers are talking – the output of the Philippines tourism program is a measly number #6 – from 2005 to 2009.
With the recent Mendoza hostage-taking plus the string of xenophobic and racist nationalism Filipinos have displayed in the recent Carolla, Hatcher, Chip Tsao capers – it will be interesting to see the numbers for 2010. Nnot to mention Gel Relos’ joke to build Pacquiao statue on the US-Mexico border to keep Mexian illegal immigrants out as if there aren’t also Filipino illegal immigrants aka “TNT – Tago ng Tago / Hiding and Hiding/In Hiding/Hidden”. But I digress.
Increase in Tourist Arrivals to The Philippines Despite Travel Advisories
A recent GMA7 article said that PHL tourist arrivals up despite travel advisories – to quote
Tourist arrivals in the Philippines have increased by 17 percent during the first 10 months of 2010 compared to the same period last year, a welcome development as the country contests the travel advisories issued by six nations on it due to possible terror attacks.
According to figures from the Bureau of Immigration (BI), a total of 2,562,505 foreigners had visited the Philippines as of November 8, 2010, which was relatively higher compared to 2,190,114 who arrived in 2009.
It seems the spate of negative travel advisories issued by six separate governments — Australia, Canada, France, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States — have not put a dent in tourist arrivals, said Immigration Officer-in-Charge Ronaldo Ledesma.
If we are to look at these figures we’d believe that the Philippines is so beautiful that those advisories didn’t make a dent, really?
Let’s look not just at the internal figures but let’s look at how well we fare with our ASEAN counterparts.
ASEAN Tourist Arrivals
Graph 1 – ASEAN Tourist Arrivals By Country, 2005-2009
* Malaysia is the top performer and the increase in tourist arrivals shows a steady trend.
* Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam, and the Philippines showed a decrease in 2009.
* Indonesia maintained its momentum, though it had a slight decrease in 2006.
* Consistent trend of Philippines being sixth, from 2005 to 2009.
* Cambodia is showing signs of picking up.
Philippines Share of 2009 Tourist Arrivals
* The Philippines share of all Asean tourist arrivals is 4%. Travel advisories will not make much dent when you are at rock bottom.
* A review of the trend lines in Graph 1 will show that the Philippines share fluctuates within the range of 4%-6% of total ASEAN tourist arrivals from 2005 to present.
The table shows that in 2009, tourist arrivals in Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, and Vietnam were higher than the Philippines by 874%, 521%, 358%, 239%, and 139% respectively.
Source of Tourist Arrivals
Intra-ASEAN tourism is on a rise.
The traditional sources of tourism arrivals – USA, Korea, Japan show decreasing numbers.
The EU-25 and the rest of the world are on the upswing.
Data Source: http://www.aseansec.org/5167.htm
Lousy Message or Lousy Product?
Let’s cut to the chase and single out the things that we see when we go sight-seeing. Let’s put ourselves in a tourist’ shoes – and imagine what they will see when they get to the Philippines after seeing the ads and its promises. All the gloss, glam, and hype, only to see the following upon arrival:
- Rest Areas- no rest areas. rest rooms in most restaurants stink. no public trash bins – those who do provide trash bins have trash bins stolen
- Airports/Terminals/Seaports – they all suck
- Roads/Bridges- they suck
- Electricity – electricity sucks, outages are very frequent.
Peace and Order
We are so used to these incidences that we have taken these situations as “normal”
- Rallies, strikes
- Beaches- behind the facade of crystal blue waters lies a cesspool of poverty – informal settlers/squatters; child beggars; parents prostituting their children
- Rivers – our rivers have become sewage canals for banana plantations, piggeries, plastic bags, human feces.
- Forests – our forests are bare. the little that’s left is under seige from kaingin, real estate development, irresponsible mining practices, kainging, squatting, rezoning.
AP commentor Hyden Toro is more blunt in stating
Beautiful Philippines…Filipinos, beautiful dreamers…unfortunately, the following previous incidents have cast negative outlook of the Philippines:
(1) Jolo Hostage incident; where Red Cross workers were taken Hostages. And were threathened to be beheaded…
(2) Maguindanao Massacre, where Journalists were brutally killed and buried with a BackHoe.
(3) Quirino Grandstand Tragic Hostage Incident – where tourists were killed; President Noynoy Aquino was nowhere to be found. Inexperienced Policemen were used to deal with the tragic hostage situation. The Mayor of Manila and other officials, were feasting from a nearby Chinese Restaurant, while the Hostages were murdered.
(4) Sanitation and pollution problems; with squatter shanties lined up along the Metro Manila riverbanks.
(5) The country is in virtual State of War; with New people’s Army insurgents all over the country; and the Al Queda inspired Muslim rebels in the South.
We have now satellite T.V., where worldwide news events are featured, 24 hours-a-day, 7 days-a-week; from anywhere in the world. People have eyes, and have brains even better than us….especially in developed countries…they are well informed.
It is just useless for the Tourism Department, to put photos of: coconuts, bananas, beeches, etc…These are available in other countries…only pedophiles, who come to have sex with our pre-teen prostitutes are interested to come…Put your house in order, first; clean your house. Then, you can invite people to come visit your house.
Why is the Philippines consistent at number six?
Dick Gordon may have increased Philippine tourism arrivals using internal benchmarks BUT when benchmarked against ASEAN neighbors – the results pale in comparison to Malaysia which had 800% more tourist arrivals than the Philippines in 2009.
What is Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, and Vietnam doing that the Philippines isn’t doing?
Will changing the message from “Pilipinas Kay Ganda” and retaining “Wow Philippines” really make a dent in the Philippines overall share of ASEAN tourist arrivals (4% of ASEAN total tourist arrivals in 2009)?
Given that a large source of tourist arrivals are fluent in English, why are we using a “Filipino word” to reach a market that is too busy to learn new foreign words?
The GMA7 report continues
The country is on track to hit its target of at least three million visitors in 2010, Ledesma added, noting that tourist arrivals have traditionally increased during the last two months of the year, when it is winter in the northern hemisphere and Europeans visit tropical countries for a warmer climate.
Notice the Philippines target – 3 million vistiors in 2010. We sure love to set the bar low. With Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, and Vietnam setting higher goals – the Philippines is contented with 3 million, guaranteed to ensure the Philippines stays at #6 in ASEAN.
So many questions.. that have already been answered – many times over.
Aquino says we can dream once again – 3 million visitors and being #6 in ASEAN isn’t a dream – that’s reality. If Aquino and the Filipinos want to dream, shoot for #1 – but that’s too much to ask from a nation that is renowned for a culture of mediocrity.