Under the Tourism Barometer: The Philippines
Traveling is quite different from one person to another. There are various reasons why a place is popular for tourism and the others are not. There is a necessity to analyze why people engage in traveling so these places could either maintain their competitiveness in tourism, or perhaps improve them by looking unto other aspects of the experience. It is relatively accepted that the more varied and unique experience a place can provide, the more tourists would eventually flock into the area. This is the focus of this blogpost to tackle on the so-called tourism barometer as a measure of a place's travel attractiveness.
In relation to this, I will attempt to utilize the barometer to assess the Philippine's competitiveness. Every aspect, I will give either one whole point if it is indeed a strong advantage, half point if it is relative advantage, or a quarter of a point if is is weak point. Readers could agree with the points thereafter.
0.25 point. The Filipino cuisine is surprisingly more Western and Spanish than expected. The cuisine has also very strong Chinese cuisine, but some foreigners would be disappointed that Filipino food less comparable to Thai, Korean, Japanese or Vietnamese cuisines, which are more associated with Asia. Ofcourse, some tourists visit Asia to experience extraordinary Asian cuisine. This puts the Philippines at a more disadvantage point, because the lack of identity and uniqueness of its cuisine.
Activities for children
0.25 point. This is a weak point for the Philippines in terms of tourism. It is not totally child-friendly. There is no attractions similar to Disneyland in Hongkong or Universal Studios in Singapore. It could have been better if there exists such destinations to attract families to come to the Philippines.
1.00 point. Philippines is known as a honeymoon destination in Asia. There are exclusive places where tourists can go, especially in remote islands with some resorts located. Bohol, Palawan, Cebu and Boracay are good places for couples. Couples could enjoy the solitude, privacy and festivities at the same time. The challenge is how to keep the Philippines more attractive than its Asian neighbors, like Thailand and Malaysia, which offer relatively the same nature-based romantic ambiance to tourists.
Beaches and the sun
1.00 point. Given the country is located near the equator, the Philippines has only two seasons, sunny and rainy. The good thing is that even during the rainy season, there are still places where one could enjoy the sun. After all even there are about over fifteen typhoons hitting the Philippines yearly, not the wholr country is affected. If it rains in the east, the sun is shining in the east. If there is typhoon in the north, there is still plenty of sunshine in the south. In terms of this aspect, the Philippines may have good adavantage over other Asian counterparts being an archipelago. Indonesia is a larger archipelago but the kind of weather hinders it to parallel the Philippine beaches in terms of variation and quantity. The major challenge is how to invite more Americans and Europeans to come to the country for this reason alone. By doing this, the Philippines must make it more convenient for these target groups to come to the Pacific nation. This also means Philippines will compete with Maldives; Europe's Canary, Azores, Madeira and Azores and the whole of the Caribbean region
Culture, language and history
0.50 point. I consider the Philippines as a multi-cultural, multi-linguistic and historic nation, but the cultural diversity has not been tapped optimally for tourism purposes. There are even some ethnic tribes losing their identity. The Filipino language is not something foreigners would want to learn as well like Spanish, French or Chinese. After all, most Filipinos can understand and speak English. However, due to this, the uniqueness in culture, language and history are somehow diminished, and even overshadowed by the Philippines' neighbors Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, Korea and Japan which heavily focus on their advantage on this area.
Pilgrimage and meditation
0.25 point. Surrounded by countries embracing Islam and Buddhism, the Philippines has an a disadvantage on this area. This makes Thailand or Malaysia more interesting. Tourists would naturally want to see and experience something new in Asia, and given the Philippines adheres to Christianity, this aspect gives neither uniqueness nor novelty. However, there is an emerging industry in welfare industry that focuses on meditation, spa or massage, which is a good offer of a country to its aspiring tourists. However, in this area, Thailand has made a good leap already ahead from its Asian neighbors, including the Philippines. Perhaps making the Philippines an alternative destination could be a tourism goal in the near future, focusing more nature such as lakes, volcanoes or springs which undoubtedly abound in the country.
Unique natural attractions
1.00 point. There are many tourist destinations that are unique for the Philippines, or nearly a replica of another destination in another country. Chocolate Hills in Bohol, Rice terraces in Ifugao, El Nido and Subterranean river in Palawan, Volcanoes in Camiguin, Enchanted river and Agusan Marshland in Mindanao, the Batanes Islands, sand dunes of Ilocos, the perfect cone Mayon volcano in Albay, beautiful diving and surfing spots all over the country and ofcourse over seven thousand islands varying in shapes and colors are few examples.
Adventure and fun
1.00 point. Night life is also very distinct in the Philippines. Literally, there are no limitations for those who like to party. The big cities of Manila, Cebu and Davao can offer many things. In terms of festivals, there is certain one town or city in the country in a day celebrating a gradiose festival. The Spanish concept of fiesta makes the Philippines unique from its Asian neighbors. One could go from one house to another even uninvited to eat and communicate with another during this festivities. Here, tourists could experience what the Philippines could uniquely offer- the unique brand of Filipino hospitality and warmth.
1.00 point. Given that there ten million Filipinos working outside the country. Any foreigner woulad have meet in one instance or another a Filipino, who served as a little ambassador of the country. Filipinos are generally warm and accomodating with very strong familial relations. This makes it easy for Filipinos to establish large networks of friends, which could eventually give them the advantage at the same time.
International trade and relations
0.25 point. It is quite difficult to come to the Philippines. It has no neighboring country sharing a border with, which provides constant flow of tourists. The problem with the country is that it is more associated with countries, whose people speaks English, believes in democracy and embraces Christianity. All of these traits are found either in Europe or in the United States of America. Neighboring countries would see these traits more of a contrast from theirs than feeling more home in the country.
TOTAL: 7 out of 10 points
There is still a lot of things to do for the Philippines to become a premier tourist destination. Logistically speaking, the Philippines is not so accessible compared to its Asian neighbors. There are also hindrances why tourists are discouraged to go to the Philippines, which includes political unrest, safety issues with eventual travel advisories issued by major countries and corruption in the system. The slogan, It's more fun in the Philippines is quite timely and appropriate. It captures everything what the country can offer. The Philippine cuisine may not be as exciting as the other countries, but since many Filipinos invite their foreign friends to come to the Philippines, indeed the Filipino people serves as the greatest asset of the country itself, aside from its beaches and other notable attractions.