When record setting Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines November 8 it gained worldwide attention for its death and destruction. It also undermined the efforts of The Philippines Tourism Promotion Board (http://www.elitetraveler.com/travel/destination-guides/asia-and-the-pacific/domingo-ramon-c-enerio-iii-chief-operating-officer-philippines-tourism-promotion-board) which despite the tragedy was able to grow visitors by 10 percent to 4.7 million last year.
The Philippines of course has a proud history of world championship boxers, so in this case even a blow to the chin was only a momentary distraction. Despite Haiyan’s best efforts, it only was able to inflict damage on a small part of the country’s more the 7,000 islands.
However, world news coverage of course focused on the impacted areas creating a public relations and marketing challenge for tourism interests to ensure travelers understood key tourist destinations were not affected.
Speaking during ITB in Berlin, the world’s largest travel fair, Domingo Ramon C. Enerio III, head of the tourist board, said he has changed strategy to start promoting various tourism cities and provinces. The goal is of course to create a better understanding of geography so consumers know that for many in the country Haiyan was a television event only. With a diverse culture and activities, there is now a platform to better explain the various experiences from diving to soft adventure, culture and culinary. As an example to promote the latter Asian Food Channel is setting “The Amazing Food Challenge” in the Philippines with the cooking contest filmed in various destinations as 10 challengers compete for $50,000.
Other initiatives will be to promote the country’s many events from concerts to festivals as reasons to visit and re-up efforts to woe the MICE market.