PUTTING THE PHILIPPINES ON TOP OF ASIA TOURISM
The Philippines will become No.1 in Asia tourism -- IF it can aggressively promote its diverse offerings in ecotourism and cultural experiences.
Tourism in the Philippines is still a small business. In 1995, less than two million tourists came to the Philippines. This was a big improvement compared to the 1994 data; but, the number of visitors is still much lower than that of Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand.
Thus, attracting more tourists is the main problem of the Philippines. And this has to be solved by both the government and the private sectors alike. The following are some of the measures already identified and being implemented meant to increase the number of tourists to the Philippines:
1. Boost the country's image by downplaying stories of kidnapping and turning attentions away from the country's sex scandals. The government wants the Philippines to be associated with friendly people, warm weather, and tropical islands, with white sand beaches and stunning marine life to match the best in other tourist destinations in Asia.
2. Provide sufficient funding to tourism industry so as to promote the country effectively, including international tourism promotions. To stretch its budget, the government has to focus on domestic tourism, encouraging the local residents to travel around the country.
3. Implement a clear and imaginative marketing strategy. There is a need for the private sector to come up with a clear tourism plan and formulate packages that will be more effective than just distributing pretty brochures.
4. Improve access to the country in order to make it a more visitor-friendly destination. It is true that lots of islands in the Philippines boast of stunning sceneries; however, it is extremely difficult to reach these destinations. Others may be accessible, but the very high cost makes it unaffordable to many.