Boxing hero Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao has been proposed as official endorser of the Department of Tourism (DOT) in the Philippines.
Pacquiao, who is also now a senator, is seen as a big draw in the DOT campaign to promote the Philippines as a travel destination.
Members of the House of Representatives committee on tourism have approved the proposal by Representative Enrico Pineda to designate the Filipino boxing icon as DOT’s poster boy.
Pineda is with the partylist group 1-PACMAN, which stands for the One Patriotic Coalition of Marginalized Nationals, a namesake of Pacquiao. The group advocates for the marginalized and displaced sector in the country.
During a House of Representative’s committee on tourism hearing on the DOT’s plans and programs for 2017, Pineda made the proposal, citing the boxing champion’s tremendous popularity in the Philippines and abroad.
“Senator Pacquiao’s international stature is a big boost to the tourism industry of the country. His endorsement would create a lot of impact, especially in the social media,” said Pineda.
Pineda further said the senator from Sarangani province might lend his services to the DOT for free.
Supporting Pineda’s proposal, Representative Aurelio Gonzales (3rd District, Pampanga) moved to make the boxing champ the official DOT endorser.
The committee chaired by Representative Lucy Torres-Gomez (4th District, Leyte) unanimously approved Gonzales’ motion.
Also during the hearing, officials of the DOT and its attached agencies namely, the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) and the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) briefed House members on the state of the country’s tourism industry and their tourism plans and programs.
Torres-Gomez said the committee takes cognizance of the issues and concerns that are vital to the promotion and development of the country’s tourism industry.
Torres-Gomez cited there are more than 40 House bills filed seeking to declare the various areas in the country as tourism zones and destinations.
“These are very important to House members for the development of local tourism in their respective districts. We will certainly take immediate action on these measures,” said Torres-Gomez.
She said among the measures of national importance are bills seeking better assistance, services, and protection to international tourists visiting the country; granting travel tax discount or exemption to groups such as senior citizens, persons with disabilities (PWDs), official country representatives to international sports events, academic conferences, and beauty pageants; and seeking the imposition of environmental fee or green fee for the preservation, conservation, development, and protection of the country’s nation.
Representative Elisa Kho (2nd District, Masbate) proposed more DOT advertisements showcasing Filipino culture and values.
Kho also expressed concern about the DOT’s plan to change the tourism slogan, “It’s more fun in the Philippines,” which has already gained popularity abroad, especially among Southeast Asian countries.
Representative Julieta Cortuna (Party-list, A Teacher) said the DOT should just build on the gains of the present advertising campaign instead of shifting to a new slogan.
Cortuna further said the DOT should identify potential tourism areas that can be developed to boost tourism, raise revenues, and contribute to the country’s economy.
Representative Christopher “Toff” de Venecia (4th District, Pangasinan) proposed to the DOT to keep track of the tourism assets and make sure they are profitable.
De Venecia asked the DOT to provide the committee with the list of tourism assets that are available and indicate which ones are making or losing money so that appropriate action can be taken.