MANILA – It's more fun in the Philippines—and it will soon be up to boxing icon and lawmaker Manny Pacquiao to prove it to foreign tourists.
The House Committee on Tourism on Thursday approved a proposal to designate the boxer-senator as spokesperson for the Department of Tourism's (DOT) upcoming campaign to promote Philippine attractions here and abroad.
"Senator Pacquiao's international stature is a big boost to the tourism industry of the country. His endorsement would create a lot of impact, especially in the social media," said 1-PACMAN Representative Enrico Pineda in a statement.
Pineda earlier suggested Pacquiao as tourism ambassador, citing his international popularity, and the possibility that Pacquiao might lend his services to the DOT for free.
The decision to designate Pacquiao as the country's endorser was one of several issues discussed regarding the plans and programs of DOT, Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA), and Tourism Promotions Board (TPB).
In November, the DOT said it will spend P650 million to revise and "upscale" in 2017 the "It's More Fun in the Philippines" campaign, which started in 2012, as it allegedly failed to generate enough visitor arrivals.
Advertising and marketing firm McCann Worldgroup, which won the bidding for the project, will handle the conceptualization and implementation of the new campaign Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo said.
"The P650 million is not only for the tag line itself; that includes all the media placements all over the world," DOT Undersecretary Kat de Castro said.
According to the ABS-CBN Investigative and Research Group, data from DOT showed that the number of visitors to the country consistently increased from January 2012 to December 2015, reaching 5,360,682 visitors in 2015.
In 2016, the DOT's latest data from January to August showed that the country welcomed at least 4.04 million tourists, 12.59 percent (452,011) higher than the number of tourists received in the same period in 2015.