Nov 232013

MANILA, Philippines – The government should rethink its tourism campaign following the damage brought by Super Typhoon Yolanda to parts of the country, according to a hospitality consultancy firm executive.

C9 Hotelworks Co. Ltd. managing director Bill Barnett said in an interview that while the Philippines would want to continue to attract tourists to visit the country, the government should rethink how it will undertake promotion efforts following the damage left by Yolanda.

“I think for us, the key issue is, what does the Philippines do with its ‘It’s More Fun in the Philippines’?  For us that is really a profound question,” he said.

He said that continuing to promote the country as a tourist destination using the ‘It’s More Fun’ slogan may not be appropriate at this time as the country is still assessing the extent of the impact of the typhoon and conducting relief efforts in affected areas.

“It isn’t really the right time to start advertising ‘It’s More Fun in the Philippines’ after all these events. We think that is a challenge for the government,” he said.

The Philippine government, Barnett said, needs to assess whether the slogan is still relevant and whether it is sending the right message.

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“You have to be sensitive to that (disasters)…When things change, you have to change your strategy,” he said.

He noted that while other countries which were hit by natural disasters in the past such as Indonesia and Thailand have sustained their respective tourism campaigns, their governments have also come up with ways to encourage tourists to travel there by offering discounts or sales and pushing insurance companies to make quick settlements to allow rebuilding.

He said the Philippines needs to focus on starting reconstruction in areas damaged by the typhoon.

The Department of Tourism, in a statement issued earlier this month, has appealed to foreign tourists to continue visiting the Philippines, citing that continued visits help speed up rebuilding efforts.

The DOT statement was issued after the devastation caused by calamities that hit the country such as Yolanda and the 7.2 magnitude earthquake.

Barnett said that while the recent calamities may have an effect on the country’s foreign tourist arrivals and revenues, it is expected to be short-term.

“The one thing we know after big events, after Fukushima, the Asian tsunami, Bali bombings, in terms of that, typically, we would see a drop in tourism in six months but what we noticed is tourism bounces back pretty quickly. It is not on an extended period,” he said.

The same, he said, is expected in the Philippines.

“We know that business comes right back,” he said.

He stressed that how the government responds to the disaster would be crucial to attracting tourists to visit the country.

“I think the interesting thing for us is that you always wonder what the government does,” he said.

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