The Inquirer has an article that they picked up from the Cebu Daily News by Malou Guanzon Apolisok on the The Pacquiao Effect and whether or not it’s a good idea to have Pacquiao as the country’s tourism ambassador, as has been proposed in Congress. Having spent some considerable time and effort back in the 90’s trying to attract international tourists to Subic, I think the idea is a no-brainer and I think there should be a very substantial push made to make this happen. The sad and frustrating reality is that Philippines Tourism has never been able to get the kind of traction that would let it compete with, for example, Thailand — even though the charms of the country easily rival those of Thailand. The statistics are frustrating to say the least. In 2009 Thailand (beset by civil unrest, riots, and tsunami hangover) was “stalled” at 14m tourism arrivals. Meanwhile the Philippines could claim 5.1M arrivals and almost 4m of those were balikbayans — only 1.1m were foreign tourists as opposed to Filipinos of the diaspora returning home for a vacation. These Philippine figures for 2009 aren’t very different from the mid 90’s — a time when the Philippines was still suffering from an image of instability because of all the coup attempts during the Cory Aquino years.
Today there is a unique window of opportunity to take the “Pacquiao Factor” and harness it to cause potential foreign tourists to re-imagine the Philippines in a way that lets the Philippines finally begin to get the kind of international tourism traction the country deserves. Pacquiao makes that possible — it is not just the fact that he’s the most popular sportsman on the planet — it is the fact that his personality intrigues people, and they are beginning to “get it” that he in some very significant way personifies the Filipino. And remember that tourism is one area of growth and development where you can see a surge literally overnight — it can have a viral type surge that can make a huge difference in a short period of time. There is a real opportunity to double or triple the 1.1M foreign tourists and this can have a real impact on the economy of the country — it seems to me that efforts should really be made to make this happen and make it happen ‘NOW NA”……
Anyway, here’s the first para and a link to the article by Malou Apasilok. One slight bone I’ll pick with her is that she questions whether Manny has the time to do this — frankly he would make the time, but also it’s not about the time — it’s about simply using Manny to personify and welcome people to the Philippines. See my homemade photoshop example of what can be done with no time and cost — and then with a little time from Manny, a lot could be done.
The Pacquiao Factor
Even if psychologists would be unable to find “real evidence” of a Pacquiao effect on Filipinos in terms of enhancing national pride, there is plenty of data to support that the Pinoy boxing superman has boosted the country’s image abroad more than any Filipino politician or entertainer, living or dead, can. After breaking all world boxing records, Pacquiao has become, along with the late president Cory Aquino, the most recognizable Pinoy anywhere in the world. Read the full story at the Inquirer.