Erwan Heussaff (rightmost) joins officials of the Singapore Tourism Board as the face of its newest campaign for the Philippines. Photo by Karen Flores for ABS-CBNnews.com
MANILA – The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) has appointed Filipino-French food blogger, editor and restaurateur Erwan Heussaff as the face of its newest campaign for the Philippine market.
The announcement coincided with the launch of STB’s new tourism slogan for the Philippines, “Singapore: See where the world is heading,” which aims to show Filipinos a “different” side of the city-state.
Kenneth Lim, STB’s regional director for Southeast Asia II and Oceania, said they decided to change its strategy for the Philippines, one of the key sources for tourist arrivals in Singapore, after finding out about their travel habits and needs.
“We have done a lot of research, focus group studies here in the market for the last couple of years and now we have a better understanding of Filipino consumers,” Lim told ABS-CBNnews.com. “Filipinos find the need for bonding and they want to share their trip with their friends and family.”
“So from there, the most important thing for us is to curate all existing attractions that we have as well as the new attractions to bring out the bonding element, the opportunities where Filipinos can bond with their family and friends, or even share some of the newest destinations that we have for them to enjoy,” he added.
One way that STB is bringing out that “bonding element,” Lim said, is by introducing to Filipinos a number of dining destinations that offer memorable experiences, such as the restaurants by the “supertrees” at Gardens by the Bay and meals inside cable cars for a stunning view of the city.
“Not many people know that they can have a nice four-course dinner at the cable car and enjoy the skyline,” he said. “There are many opportunities in our existing attractions that create these opportunities for bonding.”
Singapore welcomed 656,000 visitors from the Philippines in 2012, with the number expected to increase following STB’s new campaign, which hopes to attract families and “barkadas” or groups of friends.
Lim believes that Heussaff, who visits Singapore at least four times a year, can effectively promote the city-state to his fellow Filipinos.
“He has a strong affinity with the destination,” Lim said of Heussaff. “He goes there frequently and he knows hidden parts of Singapore that a lot of Filipinos don’t know. And he has a huge following in social media… That’s one of the reasons why we chose him.”
Food enthusiasts know Heussaff as “the fat kid inside,” which is also the title of his well-read food journal, while those who follow local show business often refer to him as the sister of model Solenn Heussaff and the boyfriend of actress Anne Curtis.
With the launch of STB’s new campaign for the Philippines, he gets a new title – “the Curious Traveller.”
In Curious Traveller, Heussaff gets to interact with his social media followers, who can give him tasks and challenges during his stay in Singapore – from “cooking laksa better than a hawker” to “running at the Gardens by the Bay and beating a certain time.”
The idea, said Lim, is for other Filipinos to share Heussaff’s experiences and for them to try these challenges in Singapore for themselves.
“A lot of people look to Singapore for new ideas, for different creative outlets. I myself am there maybe four to five times a year for the music festivals and for my older sister who lives there,” Heussaff said.
“I’ve also partnered with a couple of bars in Singapore, two cocktail bars. And I have Singapore bartenders who I’ve personally brought in to the Philippines to help train some of the guys we have here,” he added. “I have a very, very symbiotic relationship already with the country.”
Noting that social media plays a huge role in STB’s campaign for the Philippines, Heussaff said he is looking forward to the “challenges” to be sent by Filipino netizens to the Curious Traveller.
“Go as extreme as you want to go. I’m ready to take on any challenge,” he said.
Also part of STB’s strategy is a microsite and a mobile application where Filipinos can create their own itineraries as well as choose from recommended destinations.
“Hopefully through the app, Filipinos will be inspird to be their own curious traveller,” Lim said.
The agency has also tied up with Singapore Airlines to offer discounted trips to the city-state at $150 and $190, inclusive of taxes.
For more information about Singapore’s new campaign for the Philippines, visit http://www.yoursingapore.com/ph.