Leaders of the Philippine tourism industry, together with Globe myBusiness stakeholders, gathered to explore and champion technological solutions that will help shape the future of Philippine tourism. The jam-packed event, which was held last March 21, 2019 at the SMX Convention Center in SM Aura, saw travel and tourism experts take the stage.
Each speaker painted a big picture of what the local tourism sector is like nowadays, and how technology can catapult the industry to greater success. Time to heed their advice:
Ernest Cu, president and chief executive officer of Globe Telecom, said that the warmth of the Filipinos and their heart for service have been a major driving force for the tourism sector. “We need to develop the facilities—that’s something that our government is doing, and we’re helping with [that]. I believe our people are the warmest, most welcoming people there are. We need to acknowledge and make the most out of that.” He went on to add that Globe’s initiatives and product offerings are geared towards making the tourism sector more efficient, and in turn, making it more lucrative. “We at Globe would like to support this industry because [it] needs a lot of updating [for it to adapt to] the digital world. Digital is changing how things are done.”
Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat was the keynote speaker for the event. She generously painted a picture of how the efforts to revive Boracay was painful at first, but it has benefitted the destination in the long run.
She stressed that sustainable tourism is the core of the country’s tourism campaign. “We will be advocates of responsible tourist destinations and we will be champions of sustainable tourism to create a dependable source of income for Filipinos. She also cited that the bayanihan spirit of the Filipinos is perfectly aligned with the department’s efforts to reduce tourism’s carbon footprint without sacrificing the booming industry. She further added, “With all the positive changes that we aim to bring forward in the next four years, we invite the private sectors to be our partners in responsibly developing tourism products, infrastructure and services.”
Filipinos are fond of giving unsolicited advice or tips, and as Destination Marketing Manager for TripAdvisor Gary Cheng said, the strength of TripAdvisor lies in its authenticity—the reviews it gets from its users. While most people are spurred to write a review just to criticize, users are able to discern and choose which ones to believe. Ultimately, this sways their decisions on what to do or see, or where to go or stay.
“We are a prisoner of our own tourism,” Raoul Villegas, executive director of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) boldly stated. He went on to say that government support is crucial when it comes to keeping up with the demands and standards that tourists have come to expect when traveling. There is also a need to improve on a number of aspects, like adding more airports, for instance.
Desiree Bandal, head of Government Policy and Government Affairs of Air Asia, echoed what most Filipinos love: getting the most bang for one’s buck. Low-cost airlines have opened the doors for more Filipinos to travel, while prioritizing experience over luxury. No-frills airlines such as Air Asia create this exciting opportunity.
In recent years, Instagram has created avenues for small businesses to flourish. Alexander De Leon, product marketing manager of Instagram Asia-Pacific, said that the hugely successful social media platform can drive customers—by the droves—to your business. Instagram posts, Stories, promos, links, and even geotagging greatly helps create awareness. Employing Instagram ads also puts your business in front of your target market without much effort.
Gino Borromeo, McCann Worldgroup Philippines’s chief strategy officer, presented trends in traveling. According to Borromeo, solo female travelers and “babymoons,” among other trends, are taking precedence this year. But one thing has remained constant: experiential traveling. An ideal destination need not just be Instagrammable; it must be also unique and memorable enough for a fickle-minded traveler to bookmark.
In the talk of Hanniel Almasco, Master in Public Management and environmental officer of El Nido Resorts, she stated that even with the growing number of visitors that head to El Nido, Palawan, environmental protection is an attainable goal with the help of tourists . Partnering with tourists to promote responsible tourism can also be done elsewhere.
Some stakeholders unfortunately put profit above all else. However, AA Yaptinchay, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and executive director and founder of the Marine Wildlife Watch Philippines, warned that disregarding the environment might seem cost-effective at first, but that also means essentially killing off your livelihood in the long run.
Proper protection of marine life, for instance, will benefit both the ecosystem and the stakeholder. As a tropical country, the Philippines has a diverse ecosystem. Marine creatures, like sea turtles and colorful corals, are great tourist attractions, said Yaptinchay. But while these are pretty to look at, tourists should be mindful enough not to disturb or destroy them; and stakeholders have the responsibility to protect this biodiversity if it is to continue being a tourist attraction.
Michelle Tapia, head of Strategy, Innovation and Transformation of Globe myBusiness, reiterated the company’s commitment in providing what small and medium enterprises specifically need. According to Tapia, startups have the urge to drive down expenses while maintaining their competitive edge. “SMEs have a very diverse and unique set of needs,” she explained. “We want to make sure that the challenges of aspiring new entrepreneurs, like providing digital material, selling online, operational efficiency, will be provided. We also have the business solutions for traditional entrepreneurs who want to scale or expand globally.”
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