TORONTO – To entice foreign travelers to the Philippines, the Department of Tourism (DOT) will give away a condominium unit, a car or P200,000 shopping spree and roundtrip international tickets for Filipinos abroad who can bring a foreign friend to the country.
Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo said the DOT will give away incentives to Filipinos abroad in line with the revival of the Bring Home a Friend program.
The program encourages Filipinos living abroad to become ambassadors of goodwill to help the DOT sell the Philippines to the international market.
Teo said the winners will receive a condominium unit from Megaworld, a car or shopping spree worth P200,000 at Duty Free Philippines and international and domestic roundtrip tickets from Philippine Airlines. A raffle draw will be held as part of the program.
“I know you are all eager to do it for free. But just the same, the DOT with the private sector will be giving away incentives to those who can bring home a friend from Sept. 1, 2017 to March 2018,” Teo said when she met with the Filipino-Canadian community in Ontario.
Teo’s announcement was made through a four-minute video posted on her official Facebook page.
In the video, Teo also urged Filipinos abroad to coordinate with DOT officials assigned in their region for more information on the grand raffle draw.
Teo also announced that the DOT will reopen its office in Toronto, Canada.
“This is just the beginning of a stronger tourism promotion in Canada as we prepare to reopen the DOT office in Toronto,” she said.
In her Facebook page, Teo posted photos of her in Toronto on Monday where she was seen speaking at city hall for the culmination of the 19th Mabuhay Philippine Festival 2017, which aims to encourage Filipinos longing to come back to the Philippines.
The Secretary, encouraged Filipinos living in Canada to “spread the word” about the positive developments in the country.
“This is an opportune time for our kababayans to help spread the word about the good things and positive developments now taking place back home under the leadership of President Duterte. Do find time to visit and bring along a friend to experience the Filipino hospitality,” Teo said.
She also assured Canadians that the Philippines is not just a beautiful place to have fun but also a place to retire and invest.
Meanwhile, Philippine Ambassador to Canada Petronila Garcia echoed that it is indeed the perfect time to re-establish a DOT office in Canada to take advantage of the growing interest in traveling to the Philippines.
“Canada is a country of immigrants and it recognizes the Filipino’s role in the community. There is a growing curiosity where the Filipinos came from. Also noting that the Philippines as the fastest growing economy in Southeast Asia, more Canadian businessmen are also interested in the Philippines,” Garcia said.
During her stay, Teo met with representatives of Canada’s Snowbird Association (CSA), with a 100,000 membership that promotes and facilitates travel during Canada’s winter season.
Teo said having Snowbird members spending up to six months in the Philippines can yield higher tourism revenues for Filipino tourism stakeholders.
According to Teo, South Korea remained as the top tourist market for the country, posting 795,085 arrivals, representing 23.68 percent share of total inbound traffic; followed by the United States with 513,443 (15.29 percent); China, 454,962 (13.55 percent); and Japan, 294,080 (8.76 percent).
Teo noted the surge in tourist arrivals from emerging markets, as well as China, as a significant factor to the higher figures and better tourism industry performance. Chinese arrivals jumped 33.44 percent with 454,962 visitors compared to last year’s 340,958.
Notable increases were also gained by India at 23.41 percent (54,663 arrivals) and Canada at 18.41 percent (108,243).
Teo said the spike in visitor influx in January with 631,639 arrivals set the momentum for steady increases over the first six months of the year.
“In the face of challenges, the country continued to receive the growing influx of tourists from across the globe, desiring to see our world-class destinations and experience the renowned Filipino hospitality,” Teo said.
Among those helping to boost tourism in the Philippines is Canadian beauty queen Siera Bearchell who represented Canada in the 2016 Miss Universe pageant held in Manila.
“I am partnering with @philippinestourism + @cebupacificair and some of the BEST resorts and hotels,” she wrote in an Instagram post.
At present, Canada remains to be the country’s eighth largest tourist source market, accounting for 175,631 visitor arrivals to the Philippines in 2016, or a 12.23 percent growth rate from 2015.
Behind the United States and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Canada hosts the largest Filipino community overseas, where Tagalog ranks the sixth most-spoken language.
More than 700,000 Filipinos reside in Canada. The country’s third largest immigrant group and almost half of whom reside in Toronto while many other Filipinos live in Vancouver, Winnipeg, and Calgary
Global Affairs Canada is advising against all travel to the Mindanao Region due to the serious threat of terrorist attacks and kidnapping. The Government of Canada’s ability to provide consular assistance in this region is limited, it says.
Similarly it advises against all travel to the Sulu Archipelago and through the southern Sulu Sea, including the waters off southern Palawan Island, due to the threat of piracy and kidnappings in this area.
It is also advising against non-essential travel to the urban areas of Davao City, due to security concerns and the implementation of martial law in the Mindanao Region.