Senator: Govt should use 'storytelling' to boost tourism

Senator Sonny Angara said the Department of Tourism (DOT) should embrace "storytelling" as a key component of its marketing efforts to attract more foreign visitors to the Philippines.

"Storytelling is a great way of inspiring tourists to explore new things, activities and experiences in the Philippines, which is without a doubt a beautiful and unique country with so many great attractions," Angara said.

Angara issued the statement as he joined fellow senators, Richard Gordon and Juan Miguel Zubiri, in urging the DOT to come up with a tourism master plan anchored on storytelling of the rich cultural heritage of the different tourism sites in the Philippines.

The senators made the appeal on Monday before the Senate plenary approved the proposed P3.377 billion DOT budget for 2019. Angara is the Senate finance committee vice chairman who sponsored and defended the DOT budget.

Angara said the lack of narrative about the country's top tourist destinations could be one of the reasons why the Philippines continue to lag behind its neighbors in Southeast Asia in terms of tourist arrivals.

To illustrate this, Angara cited Boracay and other white-sand beaches across the country which were "far more beautiful," but the absence of a good narrative and anecdotes dull their appeal to visitors as opposed to Bali's beaches because their marketing promotions tell compelling stories that drive tourist traffic.

"Compared to Bali, our own Boracay and other lesser known beaches in the country like those in my home province of Aurora are far more beautiful. However, it seems that we lack stories that tell so," the chairman of the Senate ways and means panel said.
According to the World Bank, the Philippines only had 5.361 million foreign tourist arrivals in 2017 compared to Thailand's 29.923 million; Malaysia, 25.721 million; Singapore, 12.051 million; Indonesia, 10.407 million; and Vietnam, 7.944 million.

The DOT's target for 2018 was 7.4 million foreign tourist arrivals.

"We expect the DOT to come up with a powerful, believable and interesting story about the country and its destinations to encourage more foreign tourists to visit the Philippines," Angara said.

Earlier, Angara also urged the DOT to fast-track its plans and programs in developing and promoting other tourist destinations in the country to boost Philippine tourism.

"There should be more emphasis on new destinations. We can do so much better than 7.4 million tourists. Everyone knows that," Angara said during last year's budget hearing conducted by the Senate finance sub-committee, which he chairs.

Angara cited Sorsogon, Leyte, Negros Oriental, Zamboanga, Catanduanes and Siquijor, which are among the poorest provinces but are potential tourist magnets.

The senator stressed that by boosting the tourism industry, it would generate more jobs that could lead to poverty alleviation in these provinces.

SOURCE: ANGARA: 'STORYTELLING' KEY TO ATTRACTING MORE TOURISTS TO PH. January 16, 2019. Press Release of the Senate of the Philippines.