MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Tourism (DoT) is changing the catchphrase that has piqued the interest of many tourists around the world, but to the dismay of many who has adapted to the oft-repeated “Wow Philippines.”
In an interview with radio dzMM, Tourism Secretary Alberto Lim said many foreigners have applauded the slogan “Pilipinas Kay Ganda,” different from what others feel, especially Filipinos themselves.
“Masakit na ang bumabatikos ay Pilipino mismo, who do not accept their own language,” he said.
Nonetheless, the new slogan will not be introduced anytime soon, he said. Before the government spends on an untested brand, it will have to be subjected first to focus group discussions and public opinions, he said.
Nonetheless, Lim is confident that the country is better off with a new brand that will attract more tourists to the country.
Why the change in brand?
Lim explained the creation of the catchphrase was not an easy one.
The research started since July—with a new administration and new atmosphere. “We have a new administration, we want to take advantage of the new atmosphere,” he said.
He said the country has to compete in the tourism sector, but has to contend with a limited budget.
“Amazing Thailand” or “Malaysia, Truly Asia” became the brands that they are because of good visuals, he said. Also, the commercials are played over and over again in different avenues, he explained.
“Tayo, wala tayong budget sa repetition. We can put good visuals pero yung budget, we don’t have the same as Malaysia or Thailand. So talagang radical ang approach,” he said.
For one, in most countries, Philippines is known as “Pilipinas” rather than “Philippines,” he claimed.
“Kilala naman tayo sa Europe as ‘Pilipinas’…We’re the only Latin country in Asia,” he said.
Pilipinas, so beautiful
The real big and radical change is in the use of “Kay Ganda,” he said. The catchphrase has to be “believable and relevant,” he added.
“It’s not as if walang translation. Sa ilalim, in parenthesis, is ‘so beautiful.’ May pronunciation guide pa. In terms of execution, different faces of
foreigners will be shown, each one pronouncing the word ‘kay ganda,’” Lim added.
The word can even pique curiosity, he added.
In fact, during a trip to London, he asked a tour operator if “Pilipinas Kay Ganda” would work.
The operator supposedly said: “Of course. That’s what our market wants. We want to go abroad for a new culture.”
Asked if the government may still use the more popular “Wow Philippines” in case the new brand fails, Lim said: “We’re testing a new brand. We think we’ll get acceptance. A new brand is not accepted immediately,” he said.
He said the success of a new brand is hinged on the support of locals themselves.
He noted international experts lauded “Cool Britania” when this was introduced in Britain, but had to go back to “Rule Britania” when the people found the new catchphrase foreign to them.
“Wow Philippines,” which even made its way to international cable networks such as CNN and BBC, all the way to videoke bars, was a brainchild of former Tourism Secretary Richard Gordon.
Asked for his reaction to the change in brand, Gordon told radio dzMM in a separate interview: “I never look back…Hopefully, it will succeed…I suppose [Lim] wants to focus on the balik-bayans.”
He, however, expressed his disappointment, considering the success of “Wow Philippines.”
“Hindi naiintindihan ng dayuhan [ang Pilipinas Kay Ganda]…it will take a while [for penetration],” he said.
He said Wow Philippines became successful because the word “wow” is universal, understood by all.
He said it can easily represent the Philippines: wealth of wonder, warm over winter, watch our whales, walk our walls.
Why not focus on Tourism Act?
He said the government should just focus on implementing the new Tourism Law.
“When I had my continuing mandatory legal education, many lawyers were shocked na hindi pa pinapairal ang batas despite its incentives,” he said.
He said the law would have helped the country boost tourism opportunities. Filipinos would not have to go abroad if the industry is already at its peak, he said.
“Bawat pumasok na 10 million tourists, already corresponds to $10 billion in income…susunod na yan, gagalaw ang farmers, fishermen, entrepreneurs,” he added.
Gordon said he saw President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III Tuesday night. Had he known about the shift in brand, “I would have given him an unsolicited advice,” he said.