The Associated press has published an article citing the new “It’s more fun in the Philippines” social media campaign of the Philippine Department of Tourism. Here’s the website for the campaign, and here’s the full text of the article, which has something in it near the end that irritates me mightily. My comments follow the article.

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines is highlighting the ebullient nature of Filipinos in a campaign to draw more visitors to Asia’s tourism laggard.

The country says: “It’s more fun in the Philippines.”

Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez says, “What differentiates the Philippines from other offerings is the Filipino.”

The campaign introduced through social media and other outlets Friday aims to draw 4.2 million tourists this year and 10 million by 2016 from only 3.7 million last year.

The Philippines boasts of beautiful beaches and diving, English-speaking people and cheap shopping. But it lacks infrastructure. Visitors are also deterred by communist and Muslim insurgencies and bombings and kidnappings by al-Qaida-linked extremists in the south.

A U.S. travel warning Thursday cites the risk of terrorist activity.

Read the article at the Sacramento Bee

Not a very helpful article. Nothing like dwelling on “al-Qaida-linked extremists in the south” to help the tourism campaign. Now I realize that it’s ot AP’s job to help (or hinder) the tourism campaign — just report on it. It would have been very easy to re-jib that last paragraph in way that would not be so damaging.

This reminds me of 1992. I was in the Philippines trying to attract American film projects to the Philippines and there had been some incidents of unrest in Midnanao — and it was very hard to get them to come over. They couldn’t quite grasp the geography — and imagine, we were shooting inside Subic Freeport?

Then, somewhere in all of that, the LA riots happened and it was news all over the world.

I gleefully got on the phone with everyone I knew in LA and asked: “Is it safe to come over there?”

I’m not sure they got the point.

One of the problems is geography and lack of awareness. For some reasons people “get it”, for example, that Indonesia is a large archipelago — but they refuse to process the fact that so too is the Philippines. It’s like in their minds it’s Hawaii, Guam, Wake, Okinawa, Philippines– even though the Philippines could swallow all of those in one bite.

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