DOTre­vives pro­gram to lure Fil-Am ex­pats

Philippine Daily Inquirer - - NEWS - By Jerome An­ing

@JeromeAn­ingINQ The Depart­ment of Tourism (DOT) has re­vived its “In­vite Home a Friend” pro­gram, tar­get­ing Filipino ba­lik­bayans or ex­pa­tri­ates in North Amer­ica, par­tic­u­larly young pro­fes­sion­als, mil­len­ni­als and so­cial me­dia in­flu­encers.

In a state­ment from Los An­ge­les, Cal­i­for­nia, Tourism Sec­re­tary Wanda Teo said the in­cen­tive travel pro­gram was first launched by for­mer Tourism Sec­re­tary Mina Ga­bor in 1994 for the US travel mar­ket, the Philippines’ sec­ond top source for for­eign ar­rivals.

Teo, who is cur­rently in the United States on a busi­ness mis­sion, ex­plained that the DOT planned to run “In­vite Home a Friend” every quar­ter of the year via a raf­fle draw.

Among the pro­gram’s ini­tial tar­get mar­kets are the nextgen­er­a­tion Filipino-Amer­i­cans and Philip­pine-born res­i­dents of the United States, who are mostly into leisure trav­els and who con­sider the Philippines their na­tive coun­try or sec­ond home.

Filipino hos­pi­tal­ity

The pro­gram, as con­ceived by Ga­bor, high­lighted the Filipinos’ world-renowned hos­pi­tal­ity, which the tourists get to ex­pe­ri­ence. Aside from get­ting free flights and ho­tel night stays, the tourists will also get to en­joy with their friends tour­ing beau­ti­ful des­ti­na­tions such as Siqui­jor, Mas­bate, Ne­gros Prov­ince, Palawan, Cebu, Baguio, Davao and Ilo­cos.

While the me­chan­ics for the in­cen­tive pro­gram are still in the pipe­line, Teo said she has al­ready in­structed the DOT Los An­ge­les to spread the word among Filipino-Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ties.

“We are hop­ing to award two lucky win­ners—a ba­lik­bayan and a friend nom­i­nee—be­gin­ning Septem­ber this year. Travel re­ward may be used any­time be­tween Jan­uary and April 2018,” Teo said.

For his part, DOT-Los Ange- les at­taché Rich­mond Jimenez agreed with Teo that the pro­gram was a great way to thank Filipinos from the United States who con­tinue to not only come to the Philippines by them­selves but also of­ten bring along a friend or rel­a­tive to visit and ex­pe­ri­ence the coun­try.

“Our peo­ple are our strength. With our beau­ti­ful des­ti­na­tions as back­drop, it is the com­pany of great peo­ple that makes every visit to the Philippines more mem­o­rable and worth com­ing back for,” Jimenez said.

Cit­ing a sur­vey it con­ducted in 2016, the DOT said it found out that 56.60 per­cent of trav­el­ers vis­it­ing the Philippines from the United States were likely to re­turn for a re­peat visit. Th­ese vis­i­tors also stay long in the coun­try at an av­er­age of 11.22 nights.

Of the US trav­el­ers go­ing to the Philippines, 54.40 per­cent came upon a friend’s rec­om­men­da­tion, while 14.20 per­cent have friends or rel­a­tives in the coun­try.

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