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Quezon City Hosts 2017 Metro Tourism Summit
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hb_wt_tourismforum17Mayor Herbert M. Bautista with Secretary Wanda Teo and Dr. Mina Gabor

tourismforum_posterQuezon City played host to the 2017 Metro Manila Tourism Summit, held from February 9 to 10, at Crowne Plaza Hotel in QC. In his welcome remarks, Mayor Herbert M. Bautista said, that with travel becoming easier and cheaper, demand has escalated for the tourism industry, pushing competition to more intense levels and pressuring stakeholders to develop stronger efforts at creating distinctions that can attract and capture markets. There is a greater pressure for places to reinvent themselves, because technology now is giving people with much more information to know and compare places and experiences.

He observed that, for those of us in Metro Manila, the distinction among cities may not be as distinct; there are many similarities that can be shared. At the same time, there are enough differences that NCR cities can capitalize on to set themselves, while also being open to sharing markets, with local and foreign tourists enjoying different experiences as they move through each of our cities.

Former Tourism Secretary Mina Gabor, founder and president of the International School of Sustainable Tourism, the challenge is posed before the Philippines to look at the top tourism destinations in Asia, to see what strategies and programs are working for them, and see what the Philippines can do to move to the top 10.

Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo, who was keynote speaker, pointed out the attractions that each of the Metro cities have, but said that it is also time to address the challenges that are common in highly dense cities, such as traffic congestion and poor urban planning. She said that the Department of Tourism is introducing the platforms by which cities can reintroduce themselves, because they may have been taken for granted these past years. It is time, she noted, for cities to build up their advantages and make the most of the opportunities that tourism brings. Quoting a source, she pointed out that beautiful destinations are not accidents, but are the result of deliberate planning, careful and effective execution and a lot of passion. She exhorted tourism stakeholders at the summit to be passionate yet deliberate in promoting the Philippines as a tourism destination.

hb_tourismforum17Mayor Bautista (center) with, from left, president of Homestay Travels Rose Libongco, chairman of Bond AsianTravels
Gregory Duffel, Dr Mina Gabor and world travel journalist Imtiaz Moqbil at the Metro Manila Tourism Forum 2017

Another speaker, Imtiaz Muqbil, one of the most respected trade and tourism journalists, with a rich breadth of experiences in the Asia-Pacific region, advised tourism planners that they must aim for the right balance, otherwise nothing will work. He observed the growing clonalisation of cities, combining the words ‘clone’ and ‘globalization,’ as he noticed that cities were beginning to look alike – with rising skyscrapers, traffic, and shopping malls. Cities, he said, may have lost their soul, their distinct character, in their aspiration to progress. They must look back at history and culture to rediscover what it is that led to their formation, and use these to carve out their distinction.

Donald Patrick Lim, chief digital officer of ABS CBN Broadcasting Corporation, shared the very candid observation that the Philippines was not similar to other ASEAN countries, and that of those who visit ASEAN, very few visit the Philippines. He said that it may be because we do not promote the Philippines with a cohesive marketing message that gives a tourist a solid impression about the country. Although the Philippines has a lot of attractions, what may be missing is a point of distinction – the essence, the soul and character of the Philippines should come out in this message.

Lim said that, with the tools of digital media, everyone can help in tourism promotion. He showed the example of Korean teenagers in the Philippines who produced their own youtube video, starring themselves, to show Koreans what they can discover and experience in the Philippines. Showing all the wonderful experiences in the Philippines as discovered by various people themselves, Lim showed a video produced entirely from videos taken by various local and foreign tourists themselves, of the breath-taking and fun activities they have had in different parts of the country. He said that these days, being digital is no longer a choice, it has become an imperative for tourism.


 

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