Travel and Tourism

DOT chief Christina Frasco launches tourism campaign in San Francisco

By Jun Nucum
SAN FRANCISCO – To further boost tourism in the Philippines by giving opportunities to invite foreign friend, guest, spouse and loved ones to the Philippines, the Philippine Department of Tourism launched its Bisita Be My Guest (BBMG) program in San Francisco.

Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco led the launching with her delegation at the Philippine Consulate in San Francisco introducing the program that will “allow fellow Filipinos abroad  to become tourism ambassadors for our beautiful country.”

“The Bisita Be my Guest center program gives opportunities to invite foreign friend, guest, spouse and loved ones to the Philippines in exchange for incentives such as raffle prizes in the form of condominium, house and lot, free airline tickets, trips to holiday destinations,” Frasco said. “If you invite a foreigner to come to the country, you will also be entitled to receive a free travel passport that you can stamp in certain areas in our country in exchange for prizes in selected establishments as you travel around the Philippines.”

Frasco said that the effort really is to reintroduce the Philippines to  the world and to tap into the over 12 million diaspora of Filipinos all over the world and the over 4 million Filipinos in the United States to help us push for Philippine tourism.

“This is not a new tagline for the Philippines but rather a guest-incentive program the origins of which find itself years ago when the Philippines had its bring home a friend program. The idea was again brought to us by the Department of Migrant Workers Secretary Susan Ople who is our partner, along with the Tourism Promotions Board in taking a look at that program, innovating it, improving it and presenting it now on a matter that is current and relevant to our markets all over the country,” Frasco said.

Frasco added that as far as campaigning for Philippine tourism under the directive of the President, the task is to herald the best of the Filipino to the world by not only conveying the Philippines as a fond destination but more importantly reintroducing the Philippines as a hub for cultured heritage identity and diversity.

The aim of the program also includes getting to know the people through various nuances of the Filipino culture by visiting the destinations.

“The intention is to roll out this program all over the world. We just came from a successful showing of the Philippine delegation in Berlin and we were able to meet the vibrant community there. We were also able to launch this in Japan during the state visit of President Marcos,” Frasco stressed.

The lady secretary said her office is riding on the crest of surpassing expectations since they took over last year as the Department of Tourism was able to exceed expectations after the Philippines had 2.65 million arrivals (90% of which were foreigners) although there was only an expected 1.7 million international arrivals into the country.

“We also were able to sustain the growth of domestic tourism and fully 100% recovery as far as domestic tourism this year is concerned with no less at least than 122 million domestic trips. As far as reaching our pre-pandemic goals which was pegged at over 8.2 million arrivals, that is no longer our target. We are targeting so much higher both domestic and international,” Frasco said waxing optimism. “For this year, we anticipate that our baseline will be 4.8 million international arrivals and next year we foresee that we will be able to meet the pre-pandemic numbers in terms of international arrivals.”

Frasco said she is aware that the pillars that need improvement as far as tourism development and that in drafting the national tourism development plan, they have decided to take a look not just tourism promotions but more importantly product development including addressing challenges to infrastructure, connectivity, digitalization enhancement of the overall tourism experience and spreading countrywide development through tourism to focus not only to our key destinations but as well as our emerging and lesser-known destinations.

With 7,641 islands each having places of great interest depending on the  traveler’s urge to see and experience, Frasco said  that the push of the Department of Tourism is not only to present  nature-based destinations such as  award-winning beaches, dive sites, but also heritage and pilgrimages sites  to push for multidimensional tourism such that when one visits a destination, they will not only experience the place but also the culture, food, and the like.