Jimenez: 2015 is Visit the Philippines Year

The Philippine Department of Tourism (DOT) has threaded key local and international events under a year-long umbrella campaign starting next year, declaring 2015 as “Visit the Philippines Year” (VPY).

Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr. made the announcement this Thursday during the 13th Philippine Travel Exchange (Phitex) held at SMX Convention Center in Pasay City.

Designed to complement the highly-successful “It’s More Fun in the Philippines” campaign, VPY will be calendar of activities which the DOT, in partnership with the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB), will promote offline and online in a bid to haul in 8.2 million visitors in 2015.

Specific campaigns have yet to be announced but VPY has hit the ground running with a micro-site that will aggregate events from registered organizers, businesses and cities. The TPB also showed an AVP that is planned to be shown abroad and shared on social media.

“What will truly sustain Visit the Philippines Year 2015 campaign are the people themselves. I enjoin the businesses, communities and locals, to play an active part in spreading and amplifying our messages, enticing would-be visitors to come visit our shores,” said Jimenez.

Among the big events this 2015 include the he much-awaited visit of Pope Francis this January, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Ministerial Meetings and Leaders' Summit, Madrid Fusión food summit, Hot Air Balloon Fiesta, the Philippine International Pyromusical Competition and the Siargao International Surfing Competition.

MICE ambitions

In a separate media roundtable Wednesday, TBP's chief operating officer Domingo Ramon Enerio III said that this year’s Phitex was attended by more than 200 buyers from 30 countries, the largest delegation it has to date.

Enerio noted that it has grown from around 170 buyers last year but what was most interesting is the rise in interest from the overseas markets “particularly in areas where we have not have been as strong.”

Phitex has seen a large delegation of buyers from Russia, Western Europe and a welcome rise in participation from Eastern European countries like Poland, Czech Republic and Greece – a previously untapped market, Enerio said.

“The image in the Philippines have vastly improved, not just for tourism. Certainly our campaign has helped a lot in creating awareness about the Philippines as a destination. More and more of these buyers would like to experience for themselves because they didn’t have the chance or opportunity to visit the country,” he adds.

In addition to continuously meeting and setting new arrival targets, Enerio said that the DOT has ramped up efforts to bring the Philippines back to the meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions (MICE) arena

Enerio admits that the Philippines has been absent from the global MICE scene “for a long time” but effort since 2010 have slowly steered the country into the radar again.

“To recall, we were number one in Asia in regards to MICE in the 1980’s and ranked eight worldwide. We have lost that luster because at that time we were not able to sustain our position in the international market. Now, the push is really to seize that position back.”