A fusion of a Filipino folk dance to the tune of modern music at the BBMG launch. Kamal Kassim / Gulf Today
Mariecar Jara-Puyod, Senior Reporter
Filipinos in the UAE have been asked to join the bandwagon of tourism ambassadors and help promote their country as a priority for business and holiday.
The appeal came from visiting Department of Tourism-Tourism Regulation, Coordination and Resource Generation Undsecretary Shahlimar Hofer Tamano and Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) In-Charge/Welfare and Foreign Employment Undersecretary Hans Leo Cacdac, and Philippine Ambassador to the UAE Alfonso Ferdinand Ver on Sunday evening.
It was against the backdrop of the introduction of the DoT-Tourism Promotion Board/DMW collaborative 16-month incentivized tourism project “Bisita (Visitor) - Be My Guest.”
Moreover, on December 1 (Friday), Tamano led the Philippine delegation at the “World Travel Awards (WTA) 2023” in Burj Al Arab wherein the Philippines took home the World’s Leading Beach Destination and World’s Leading Dive Destination trophies.
Additionally, WTA, which for the 30 years, has extolled regional and international stakeholders for their excellence in the tourism and hospitality sectors, had also adjudged the Philippines’ capital of Manila as the World’s Leading City Destination; Amanpulo Hotel in Cuyo, Palawan Province, the World’s Leading Dive Resort; and the City of Dreams in Manila, the World’s Leading Casino Resort.
Tamano mentioned as well that last October 15 and at the Dubai-hosted “The World Cruise Awards 2023,” the Philippines was recognised as Asia’s Best Cruise Destination.
A play on the nickname initials of President Ferdinand “BongBong” Marcos Jr, “BBMG” was launched in Pasay City, Metro Manila on December 22, 2022 by Tourism Secretary Christian Garcia Frasco and the late DMW Secretary Susan Ople.
It had since been brought to cities with dense Flipino populations such as Tokyo (Japan), Berlin (Germany), and Burbank and San Francisco (California, USA).
In his welcome address, Ver associated the ultra-jobs-generating tourism industry with the harmful consequences of greenhouse gas emissions and the participation of a high-level Philippine delegation at the ongoing Conference of Parties 28 in Dubai: “The Philippines is one of the vulnerable countries to climate change. But we come here also offering solutions from the highest levels of our government. But it starts and ends with the individual. So, may I ask all our fellow Filipinos in the UAE to also have that passion in protecting our planet. It starts with the very little things that we do. Especially as how climate will affect tourism in the Philippines. If we want to preserve our richest resources and the beauty of our country of over 7,000 islands, we have to emphasise the need for a collective effort to combat climate change.”
Ver, once more, urged his fellow Filipinos in being active ambassadors; to invite their employers and colleagues, and even third generation Filipinos and their friends for an experiential visit in their homeland: “It is a way of expressing our gratitude to them who have let us thrive in this country.”
In his speech, Tamano enumerated the novel measures DoT has been implementing towards the Philippines becoming the primary choice for vacations and businesses: the top-to-bottom Filipino Brand Services Excellence Training Programme which has so far upskilled over 122,000 personnel including People With Determination; the Philippine tourism smartphone app for instant information; the 1518687 hotline and DoTwebsite chatbox; the Hop On-Hop Off tourist bus in designated areas; and the ongoing construction of Tourism Rest Areas across 82 provinces.
He announced that the “baseline target” of 4.8 million international tourist arrivals for 2023 was already surpassed with 4,917,966 million arrivals recorded by the DoT on December 3.
Tamano and Cacdac (via a video clip) explained that BBMG is an “innovative incentive travel programme.” Filipinos are encouraged to enroll online their foreign and former Filipino kin and kith to visit the country. For every successful invitation, both the Filipino and any of his foreign guest or invitee will have the chance of winning exciting prizes.” Remaining raffle draws will be held on December 13, 2023 and May 10, 2024.
Tamano punctuated on the Philippines’ recent bounty of international awards: “These awards are a testament to the fact that the world acknowledges the natural beauty of the Philippines. With these and what our government is doing, we hope you now confidently invite your foreign friends, colleagues and acquaintances to visit the Philippines and make our country the next tourism powerhouse in Asia.”
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