Use more narratives to tell of PH’s rich cultural heritage, Angara asks DOT
By Hannah Torregoza, Published January 16, 2019
Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara on Wednesday urged the Department of Tourism (DOT) to use storytelling as a marketing strategy to attract more foreign visitors to the Philippines.
“Storytelling is a great way of inspiring tourists to explore new things, activities and experiences in the Philippines, which is without a doubt a beautiful and unique country with so many great attractions,” Angara said.
The senator made the appeal on Monday before the Senate plenary approved the proposed P3.377-billion DOT budget for 2019.
Angara is vice chair of the Senate finance committee who sponsored and defended DOT’s budget.
Angara issued the statement as he joined fellow senators Richard Gordon and Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri in urging the DOT to come up with a tourism master plan anchored on storytelling of the rich cultural heritage of the different tourism sites in the Philippines.
Angara noted that the lack of narrative about the country’s top tourist destinations could be one of the reasons why the Philippines continue to lag behind its neighbors in Southeast Asia in terms of tourist arrivals.
He said Boracay, one of the country’s most popular tourist destination, and other white-sand beaches across the country were “far more beautiful,” than that of other beach destinations in Asia.
But the absence of a good narrative and anecdotes dull their appeal to visitors as opposed to Bali’s beaches because their marketing promotions tell compelling stories that drive tourist traffic.
“Compared to Bali, our own Boracay and other lesser known beaches in the country like those in my home province of Aurora are far more beautiful. However, it seems that we lack stories that tell so,” Angara said.
Citing World Bank study, the lawmaker said the Philippines only had 5.361 million foreign tourist arrivals in 2017 compared to Thailand’s 29.923 million; Malaysia, 25.721 million; Singapore, 12.051 million; Indonesia, 10.407 million; and Vietnam, 7.944 million.
The DOT’s target for 2018 was 7.4 million foreign tourist arrivals.
“We expect the DOT to come up with a powerful, believable and interesting story about the country and its destinations to encourage more foreign tourists to visit the Philippines,” Angara said.
Earlier, he urged the DOT to fast-track its plans and programs in developing and promoting other tourist destinations in the country to boost Philippine tourism.
Angara said the DoT should give more emphasis on new destinations such as Sorsogon, Leyte, Negros Oriental, Zamboanga, Catanduanes, and Siquijor, which are among the poorest provinces but are potential tourist magnets.
He pointed out that boosting the tourism industry would generate more jobs that could lead to poverty alleviation in these provinces.
“We can do so much better than 7.4 million tourists. Everyone knows that,” Angara had said.