I welcome the New Year with a toast to our tourism industry, which continues to surge, recently contributing approximately 20 percent of our country’s gross domestic product (GDP). No better way to start the New Year than that!
Tourism Secretary Wanda Tulfo-Teo brought a lot of optimism to the future of the Industry when she announced, at the start of her term, that her goal is for our country to welcome 10 million to 12 million foreign tourists per year by 2022, more than double the numbers registered in the past.
Since then, many marketing strategies have been crafted. Marketing promotions are on an all-time high. Markets that have not been too strong in the past are now registering marked increases in their share of the arrivals pie. Any which way, our country’s tourism industry is booming.
However, we can’t disregard the fact that our country also has to deal regularly with natural disasters, i.e., typhoons, flash floods and earthquakes. Added to these calamities are the perceived security and safety problems that prop up every now and then. In fact, in spite of the gains we have in foreign arrivals, the Department of Tourism (DOT) continues to face challenges in its efforts to move the Industry up, because of these many challenges.
It is for this reason that I find it laudable that the DOT recently came up with the Tourism Crisis Management Symposium, to improve the country’s resiliency in dealing with disasters and safety issues. The timely event was attended by stakeholders from all over the country. As Secretary Teo said, it behooves those involved in the Industry to have a shared responsibility in seeing to the safety and security of our visitors when they travel to any part of the country.
For her part, DOT Undersecretary Alma Rita Jimenez encouraged the stakeholders to involve themselves in learning the ways of prevention, management and mitigation of disasters that may come our way. The economic implications of these hazards and risks to tourism facilities and destinations should be considered.
Donald Patrick Lim, CEO of Dentsu Aegis Network Philippines, stressed the role of digital communication tools in countering negative news affecting the country. He also said that current technology is highly effective in creating compelling stories about any situation, stirring curiosity and excitement among the target audience. The use of viral marketing and inviting influencers to support a certain Tourism cause is also an effective strategy.
Philippine Red Cross Secretary General Oscar Palabyab stressed the need to have a risk-informed sustainable infrastructure development for every aspect of the Industry. He also highlighted the shortage of trained personnel for emergency response in our different Tourism establishments. Dr. Ted Esguerra (Everest Doc) who is with the International Disaster Response Network, chimed in with this. He advocates the creation of a crisis team which will be in the frontlines of disaster management.
Of course, crisis communication in the aftermath of disasters, pandemics, political turmoil or terrorism, is very important, as explained by Junie del Mundo, CEO of the EON Group, a public relations firm. The speed of recovery from a crisis depends on how effective the country is in managing the situation.
As the Symposium ended, Tourism USec. Jimenez unveiled the PUKSA Crisis Management Process Flow, a program designed to establish systems and procedures to be used in overcoming the risk factors, which are cleverly tagged with the acronym, PESTE: Political turmoil, Economic instabilities, Social disturbances, Technological attacks, and Environmental hazards.
With this Program smoothly operating, it is safe to say that our Tourism Industry is definitely ready for the New Year and beyond. So, with a smile on my face and glee in my heart, I sincerely wish everyone, HAPPY NEW YEAR!
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