MANILA, Philippines - The Aquino government calls itself lucky for getting a discount from global news network CNN in promoting its tourism program.
CNN shows are now swarming with “It’s More Fun in the Philippines” spots, reminiscent of years back when the government put a hard sell on its “WoW Philippines” campaign.
Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez told radio dzMM on Thursday the government was able to “secure a package that affords us something like over 2,900 spots between now and the middle of June.”
He defended the government’s spending of roughly P63 million for these spots, pointing out that the amount is way cheaper than what local networks are charging for 15-second ads.
“It is just 1/12 of the cost of primetime spots in local networks like ABS-CBN,” he said.
More importantly, he added, it is just a small chunk of the barely-touched US$10 million budget earmarked for the tourism campaign this year.
He said the reach of CNN worldwide could spell the difference for the campaign since the Turner-created company has cornered audiences in airports and hotels across the world.
“We can’t get for free a market share in tourism, as in any business,” he said.
It was also good timing on the part of the Department of Tourism since CNN is running its one-week special, “Eye on the Philippines.”
Bad, good advertising
Jimenez said the government is riding on CNN’s special report, which helped it get a discounted package.
A report from Anna Coren and Pamela Boykoff’s on Thursday morning was a good review of sorts for the Philippines, showcasing its “It’s More Fun in the Philippines” slogan and high-fiving the social media campaign that bolstered it.
“The Philippines Department of Tourism has a lot to boast about. The country has beautiful beaches, great scuba diving and a culture that is known for its hospitality. What it doesn't have is a lot of money for a global tourism campaign. Thankfully, the country's social media mad population is happy to help,” the story said.
It noted, however, that the social media campaign also elicited critical messages. “Ads sprung up with slogans like "Poverty, More Fun in the Philippines," and "Corruption, More Fun in the Philippines."
The CNN report also talked about what residents already know, and what the international audience has heard of or has yet to find out.
CNNGo, in a related story, said: “Even for travelers who get past the negative stereotypes -- and as with most hysterical complaining, the negative reviews on the Philippines are almost always wildly exaggerated -- getting to the Philippines can be a physical burden. “
The story also said that the islands are “scattered off Southeast Asia mainland,” making it more costly to reach for travelers who can easily reach Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam.
Late last year, CNN had tagged the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) as one of the world’s 10 most-hated airports.
CNN’s Jordane Rane reported that NAIA was “beleaguered by ground crew strikes, unkempt conditions, soup kitchen-style lines that feed into more lines and an overall sense of futility.”
Jimenez fully well knows the problem on tourism infrastructure which is why, he said, the government is doing its best to address the issue.
He said the government knows what it is promoting but “we also have to calibrate everything as best as we can without taking the foot off the gas.”
Jimenez also gave CNN an answer: "We keep telling everyone, the tourism picture, or snapshot you’re getting today will be very dramatically different in two years when a lot of these new gateways start coming out of the chute.”