Given my newly reawakened desire to travel, I was really pleased to wake up to my Twitter timeline last Thursday morning and see so much buzz about a Department of Tourism slogan to be revealed later that day. And BOOM! #ItsMoreFunInThePhilippines went viral.
Seriously, my timeline was flooded with tweets about the fun things to do in this country. The hashtag campaign was nice since it got Filipinos thinking about the things they could be proud of and that they enjoy doing here. The #itsmorefun hashtag trended worldwide, which is a good thing for drawing attention.
Along with encouraging people to tweet using the hashtag, the DOT launched a teaser website, itsmorefuninthephilippines.com aimed at snagging those people who would google for what the hashtag meant. The website’s copy states:
Wherever you go in the Philippines, it’s the Filipinos that will make your holiday unforgettable. Just ask anyone who’s been here. In fact, Lonely Planet guidebook calls us ‘among the most easygoing and ebullient people anywhere’. Find out for yourself why it’s more fun in the Philippines. And make the most out of your next vacation. This is just a preview of things to come. Watch out for more fun. Soon.[emphasis mine]
What a great start, right? Well, not really. Among the flood of positive tweets about why it’s more fun in the Philippines, there were some pretty ugly reminders of the things we really do need to fix in this country. These tweets focused on traffic jams, pollution, corruption, hostage crises, etc. There were critics of the campaign who said it was a waste of money when there was a Swiss ad that used the slogan in 1951. (Can anyone who can remember that Swiss ad when it first came out even travel now?) That the bad things in this country should be fixed first before we start marketing tourism to international visitors. Someone even registered a website that collects less than glamorous photo memes about the slogan. (I’m not linking it so it won’t get any Google juice.)
To that, I could only say: ayaw niyo talaga magkaroon tayo ng mga turista, ano? I’m pretty sure other countries aren’t pristine and peaceful either, yet they still persist in trying to draw in the tourists. That’s because tourism benefits the economy and also jumpstarts other infrastructure-building. And the “one problem at a time” people probably can’t walk and chew gum at the same time. Pwede naman ipagsabay, hindi ba?
Former Tourism undersecretary Enteng Romano in a riposte about the bashing gave some great insider information about the nature of marketing to foreign tourists:
[Regarding the former slogan "WOW Philippines":] …we don’t use it in Japan – our third largest market, because they don’t understand the word WOW and there is no direct equivalent of the word in their language. They don’t know that even in the US – our number one market (and where they fully understand the word WOW but maybe not appreciate it as we do), we dropped it and used another slogan because there was no traction. And they don’t know that in the last few years that we have been using the brand, we have steadily lost market share to the point where Vietnam has overtaken us in terms of tourist arrivals.
Of course you can argue that there are many other reasons for our declining market position – lack of infrastructure, traffic, lousy airport, lack of promotional budget., etc… But it might interest you to know that at the time when Vietnam overtook us, they had far worse infrastructure than ours (small airport, limited road network), and operating on a smaller promotional budget than ours. [emphasis mine]
Eyes are on us, Filipinos. DOT Secretary Mon Jimenez tweeted, “Tourism is successful in Thailand because their positive voice is louder than their negative voice.” What do you really want to show the world?
Personally I’m excited about the buzz, and I’m hoping that any concrete plans to be implemented to make the Philippines more tourist-friendly will live up to expectations or exceed them. According to Sec. Jimenez (in a direct message to me), this is just the opening salvo.
If you’d like to create your own More Fun meme images, check out Jayvee’s tutorial and SEO tips. Or use Federico Colla’s More Fun Maker. Browse other people’s #itsmorefuninthephilippines meme images sourced from Twitter through itsmorefuninthephilippinespics.com created by Arnold Gamboa.