LONDON - The Department of Tourism (DOT) highlighted the best destinations for wedding and honeymoons in the Philippines at this year’s World Travel Market (WTM) at ExVel, London.
The country's participation in the three day-event for the travel industry is aimed at making the Philippine brand more visible in the global market
DOT's marketing objective is focused on turning the Philippines into a "trendy" destination for the UK market and the rest of Europe. Its partners in promoting the Philippines are confident that they are doing just that -- and more.
“The Philippines is benefitting from new wave of backpackers. Most people have been to Thailand, the traditional backpacking routes. They now want to venture into other destination and they want to experience up and coming new destinations, such as the Philippines,” said Kathryn Alker of Expedia Media Solutions.
European millennials are also getting enticed to travel to the Philippines.
“We have seen tremendous growth so far. We have achieved double-digit growth in the last two years. We started the partnership in 2015. We continued that growth on 2016 up to July 2017. Over those two years with the marketing that we have done, we won the best marketing campaign, in collaboration with Tourism Philippines, at the World Youth and Student Tourism Conference,” said Erika Cortez-Red of STA Travel.
The Philippine pavilion also hosted a media briefing, among others, where DOT assistant secretary Frederick Alegre said a P1-billion budget is allotted for the branding efforts of DOT for 2018.
“As you know, we are now looking for agencies to produce more films. We are no longer using one agency for all films. We are using one agency per one film. It’s all under the direction of the department and we are still using It’s More Fun in the Philippines,” Alegre said.
He is confident the department will be able to do more with the budget.
“The rest will go to global influencers, placements, televisions, including on-ground promotions, billboards,” he added.
The WTM is attended by over 50,000 professionals and more than 9,000 buyers from all over the world for networking, business meetings and tourism promotion.
‘IT’S MORE FUN IN THE PHILIPPINES’ IN LONDON MALL
While strengthening linkages between the Philippine tourism industry and its counterparts in Europe, the Philippines also went on a tourism offensive through its consumer activation efforts for direct market engagements in one of the biggest malls in the UK --Westfield Shepherd’s Bush.
With some 28 million visitors yearly, the mall became the strategic venue to promote "Romantic Philippines."
For a week from November 2, the DOT and its marketing arm, the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB), showcased a musical fashion show featuring creations of couturier Renee Salud, with select bridal pieces and his collection of neo-ethnic designs, inspired by weavers of the tribal communities in the Philippines.
The award-winning Ryan Cayabyab Singers and international theatre actress Ima Castro serenaded the audiences.
The shows were staged with a backdrop of the stunning tourist destinations in the Philippines, with flair bartending treats and sumptuous Filipino food from Romulo Café London.
“I love how they showcased Filipino cuisine, Filipino fashion and music. I think it’s good for the people who has not been to the Philippines. It’s a good introduction to them,” said Londoner Jed Adorable.
“We went to Palawan, Bohol… very nice. We will definitely go again,” said Edgar Vergara, a European married to a British-Filipino.
There was also an experiential zone with bike zip, stand-up paddling and diving and snorkeling for a lasting brand recall of the islands of the Philippines.
"There is a real thrust to develop our country, our tourist destinations and over the last few years, we have seen the steady growth of tourism to the Philippines from here,” said Philippine ambassador to the UK Antonio Lagdameo.
TPB chief operating officer Cesar Montano, who was in the capital to attend TBP’s marketing events and meetings, appealed to overseas Pinoys to continue to promote the Philippines.
“Sa mga OFW na umuuwi sa Pilipinas, try to visit one or two places sa Philippines na 'di pa po ninyo napupuntahan. We call it untapped destinations po na dapat makita ng mga turista. You have to see them kasi kayo po ang magiging living witness, ambassador ng Pilipinas, dahil napakaganda po ng Pilipinas,” said Montano.
During the WTM meetings, Montano signed the agreement to host the 7th Asia Golf Tourism Convention (AGTC), to be held for the very first time in the Philippines, next year on April 22-25. It is expected to spike the selling of golf vacations in the Philippines, among others.
PHILIPPINES CONTINUES TO CHARM
To many who have already been to the Philippines for work or pleasure, the charm of the country lies not just in its beautiful tourist destinations, but on the innate hospitality and warmth of its people.
“The thing that struck me the most is the people everywhere and it’s also a very beautiful place. It has certainly some of the most impressive underwater life that I have not seen anywhere,” said Nick Edwards, author of Rough Guides.
He added: “It’s a very accessible place. People will help you along the way. The level of English spoken is extraordinarily good in everywhere that I went in the country.”
The DOT said there is no better time than now to be travelling to the Philippines because the British pound goes a long way compared with travelling to other European countries. -- With Marco Pajo, ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau