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MANILA, Philippines – Senate tourism committee chairman Nancy Binay urged the Department of Tourism (DOT) to build on its “more fun in the Philippines” brand instead of pursuing its new campaign that, she said, seems to “commodify” Filipinos.
“I’m still hopeful that DOT would consider deferring its rebranding plan. Instead, ipagpatuloy na lang natin ang (let’s just continued the) ‘It’s More Fun…’ campaign, and come up with fresh permutations of ‘Fun’ in the Philippines,” she said in a statement on Wednesday, May 10.
Binay expressed following reports on the new Philippines tourism brand rolled out its new campaign ads on the side of London buses, showing Filipino nurse May Parsons, who administered the world’s first approved and fully tested COVID-19 vaccine, along with its new “We give the world our best” slogan.
“Kasi, based on that one transit ad that recently saw the rounds in London. Nakaka-bother lang when you see the ad, it seems that we are offering the world our nurses – which is a bit off kasi nauubusan na nga tayo rito ng mga health worker,” she said.
“We have yet to see other renders and permutations of their ‘Best’ ads. But sad to say – from a tourism perspective – ‘di tugma ang ‘Best’ messaging sa gusto nating ma-achieve sa Philippine tourism,” Binay added.
(Based on that one transit ad that recently saw the rounds in London, it’s bothering when you see the ad, it seems that we are offering the world our nurses – which is a bit off because we already lack health workers here. We have to see other renders and permutations of their “Best” ads. But sad to say – from a tourism perspective – the “Best” messaging is not suited for what we want to achieve for Philippine tourism.)
The senator said that while she appreciated the DOT’s initiative to boost Philippine tourism, she urged the agency to defer its rebranding plan because the messaging was “inappropriate.”
“We don’t want to commodify our people, and we don’t want to be tagged as a labor-exporting country,” she added.
“We appreciate the initiative and the effort to give the Philippines the needed boost in the global market. Kaso, parang may disconnect ang messaging (However, there’s disconnect in messaging). Is the ad intended to encourage tourists to visit the country? Is it aimed to encourage more foreign investments? Or, is it meant for hospitals abroad to hire our nurses? Napaka-vague lang talaga (It’s really vague),” Binay said.
At the height of the pandemic in 2021, various hospitals in the country was hit by resignations, aggravating a shortage of manpower and exposing once more the plight of health workers in the Philippines.
Filipino nurses continue to seek better opportunities abroad in pursuit of higher pay and better working conditions.
The Department of Health in 2022 said that the country lacks 106,000 nurses.
In December 2022, Binay had appealed to the DOT to defer its rebranding plan because changing the country’s tourism campaign “at this time may not be a compelling argument.”
Binay said this after President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. vetoed a provision in the 2023 national budget law that “in no case shall the appropriations be utilized to change the tourism campaign slogan.”
Under RA 9593, the DOT is mandated to be the primary planning, programming, coordinating, implementing, and regulatory government agency in the development and promotion of the tourism industry. Marcos said the agency is tasked to promote tourism as an engine of socioeconomic and cultural growth in the country, both domestically and internationally.
The government allocated around P6.4 b billion of the P5.268-trillion national budget for 2023 to “support the DOT in its campaigns for the promotion of the Philippines as a tourist destination and to boost the interest of foreign investors in the Philippine experience.” – Rappler.com