EUROPEAN executives in the Philippines admit that marketing the country as a tourism and investment destination has become a difficult task.
Guenter Taus, European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP) president, said the conflicts in the Philippines are discouraging Europeans from visiting the country, either for leisure or business.
“The way we (the Philippines) project our image abroad, it is very difficult to encourage more tourists to come here,” Taus told Visayas-based business owners at a forum on doing business in Cebu City last Tuesday.
“If you are a European, you do not understand that Cebu is here and the problem is all the way down there,” Taus explained.
While Cebu has a peaceful environment, tourists usually generalize any conflicts as affecting the whole country.
Taus also criticized the Department of Tourism (DOT) for having no continuity in its tourism campaign.
In June this year, DOT under Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo released a new campaign video “Experience Philippines.” However, it later retracked to the original campaign “It’s More Fun in the Philippines.”
“To be quite frank and honest, you don’t really need us (European delegates) so much to promote the Philippines. It has to come from the Philippines on how you present the Philippines to the rest of the world,” said Taus.
EU Ambassador to the Philippines Franz Jessen shared his two cents on the Philippines’ case. “It is important that you think about what image your country presents to the rest of the world and how you are understood by the rest of the world,” he said.
The ambassador added that for the Phippine economy to grow through foreign investments and improved trade, it has to improve its image.
One of the trade benefits the Philippines is getting from the EU is the Generalized Scheme of Preferences (GSP+) trade incentive, where over 6,000 Philippine products for export enter Europe duty-free. In exchange, the Philippines has to adhere to international conventions on human and labor rights, environmental protection, and good governance.
The campaign against illegal drugs and reports on extrajudicial killings have caught the attention of the international community. The Marawi City conflict has also added to the negative publicity.