PH's tourism slogan takes backseat -- for now

By Karen Flores,

Posted at Mar 22 2011 05:10 PM | Updated as of Mar 23 2011 01:12 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The country won't be having a new tourism slogan anytime soon.

After facing criticism over the failed Pilipinas Kay Ganda campaign, the Department of Tourism (DOT) has decided to hold off on branding and marketing strategies and focus more on improving the accessibility and safety of the country's tourist attractions.

The Philippines has a lot of great travel destinations, said Tourism Secretary Alberto Lim. The problem lies, however, on the lack of infrastructure to support tourism development.

"We've dropped Pilipinas Kay Ganda. We believe that we should work on developing the product to meet international standards. We are holding off on branding until we can improve the product," Lim told reporters on Tuesday.

"We want to improve on not just our airports, but also roads, sanitation and water," he added.

The DOT, however, has not given up on public-private partnerships. On Tuesday, the agency formally launched a tie-up with Johnson & Johnson Philippines Inc. for the Basta Pinas domestic travel advocacy initiative, which aims to encourage Filipinos to rediscover the country's natural beauty and rich culture.

The project involves a website that contains destination ideas and travel stories from Filipinos, a Facebook page and writing and photography contests for journalists.

"This is a partnership that helps promote a common interest -- helping the public learn about different destinations in the Philippines...We want to create excitement for our culture and history," Lim said.

For her part, Johnson & Johnson group brand manager Christine Balingit said, "We hope to inspire other companies to take on domestic tourism to raise awareness on the place we call home."

Domestic tourism, according to Lim, is an effective poverty-reducing strategy as it helps distribute wealth to the country's "pristine areas," which are "usually stricken with poverty."

With the newly launched project, he hopes to exceed last year's tourist arrivals, which reached 26 million and 3.5 million for domestic and international visitors, respectively.