Meeting Tourism Secretary Ramon R. Jimenez Jr.

At the Radisson Blu Hotel - Executive Floor Club Lounge

Cebu, together with the rest of Central Visayas to lead tourism push in the Philippines starting 2012 said Secretary Jimenez. He was recently here in Cebu to attend to courtesy calls to Business institutions, clubs, including the awarding of the 1st Asian Underwater Federation Photography Championships. Meeting Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez was truly a privilege, that DOT-7 gave me a chance to join-in the roughly 45min. small media conference of roughly 10 people including me.

Aside from that, he also mentioned that Cebu will be one of the considered ‘areas of inspiration’ for national tourism development starting next year. Being a blogger, I definitely was at a loss in terms of my limited knowledge of tourism (but still ended up gaining/learning a lot), so I was only able to ask 2 questions and the rest of the tourism related ones to the Business Club heads, Reporters, Columnists and industry stakeholders.

The 1st question I gave was about the digital side or aspect for the Tourism marketing for the Philippines and my 2nd question was pretty simple – “How or what advise can he give us bloggers in terms of marketing the country or our local community tourism in our own little way..”

Let’s answer the 2nd one first he answered: “The 1st answer will be biased~as a tourism secretary, I’d say that only mention or focus on positive things…he laughs..”; “But then, don’t lose the honesty of course, that’s the strong point of bloggers since that is what makes the post influential…Keep it experiential whilst real in terms of not only taking a picture or video of a place that one has been to but also talk to the people in that place, you’ll definitely find or learn more new things or places directly from the locals.”

For the 1st question: “he encourages that local promotion of tourists can be enhanced by maximizing online tools, like social media, social networking sites and the like initiative..”; this comes as a welcome development for those engaged and/or into the promotion of local social media initiatives here. I’d say the answer of the secretary was on point. NGAs – National Government Agencies are not the only institutions that should engage more into social media but also local government units as well!

Tourism Update in Cebu:
From August to November this year had an 11 percent increase in tourism arrivals for Cebu alone compared last year. DOT7-Regional Director Rowena Montecillo said that “we can maintain and we will be consistent if not surpass it once again next year. And add to that in order to boost Central Visayas Tourism, we will be planning to synchronize the websites of municipalities as well.”

Up Close with Ramon Jimenez:
It was his 1st time in Cebu as a government official but had been here multiple times before for business and pleasure. One of his itinerary he had for this visit aside from the formal ones was to meet former DOT Secretary Ace Durano whom he seeked guidance and advice, which he found very useful~before we had the meet-up.

On the national tourism campaign side, they are still on the process of deliberating for the new PH Campaign; “We are being very meticulous since this is after all for our country but rest assured come 2012, the people will get the core campaign.”

Lessons Learned in Tourism, heritage and Marketing:

  • Toilets/Comfort Rooms will make or break National Tourism – totally agree, this is my major2 fear in travelling ~finding a rest/comfort room in the provinces!!!!
  • DOT only endorse/recommend infrastructure projects, it is another agency that implements the construction and infrastructure is not necessarily what tourism is about, it’s more of the ‘experiences’ a tourists get.
  • Tourism, compared to other industries has a higher and faster ‘trickle down effect’ which helps everyone. It spreads wealth faster that manufacturing, therefore, chances of everyone benefiting from tourism is higher.
  • There are a lot of opportunities in tourism, not just on tourism infrastructure developers (hotel, resorts, etc..) but also in the tourism service side (Eco-Tourism, Cultural Tourism, Tour operators) which Cebu definitely has already partially developed (Heritage Sites and Museums)—it needs more service providers.
  • The YOUTH will definitely play a big role, since they blog, and share their pride of place and country online!
  • Goal setting is a form of ‘marketing pressure,’ for if you don’t increase targets for next year (even with limited budget) –no development will occur, no increase in profits, and NO CHANGE.
  • In any place or tourism venture in the world, the goal is not just sell destinations, but the “EXPERIENCE.”

Some quotable quotes I got from him:
“Tourism should not be treated only as an administrative function but as a business.”
“It takes a nation to sell a nation. Everyone must be involved!”
“In reality, we don’t necessarily spend a lot of time selling our country. We spend even more energy complaining, and talking more of what we don’t have and of our problems. That is one of the reasons why we are where we are. But that can still change!”
“We are our own hero and enemy. We sometimes create a bad image about ourselves.

Photo Credits: Mafe Barcelo
Meeting Tourism Secretary Ramon R. Jimenez Jr. Meeting Tourism Secretary Ramon R. Jimenez Jr. Reviewed by Vernon Joseph Go on Thursday, December 01, 2011 Rating: 5