ILIGAN CITY -- Other than the promotional collaterals like brochures, magazines and the tourism's website, the recently launched Bring Home a Friend Program of the Iligan City Tourism Office is a promotional program with its short-term objective of increasing the city's tourist influx.

Agnes Clerigo-Maingat, city tourism officer of Iligan, said they intend to involve the different sectors in the community - the Iliganons -- getting a natural high of being able to contribute to the development of the city.

"We encouraged Iliganons residing in and out of Iligan to have that feeling of fulfillment of clinching a travel deal, to personally sell Iligan City with passion and vigor to local and foreign friends, associates and relatives," Maingat said.

With the participation of this program, she said Iliganons are entitled to discounts from products and services purchased in participating establishments.

She added they would also get commissions from participating establishments.

"If an Iliganon wishes to join the Bring Home a Friend, they may fill out a

registration form (Form A) and submit to the City Tourism Office or email to tourism@iligan.gov.ph. An information booklet can be downloaded at Iligan's website, www.iligan.gov.ph," Maingat added.

The mechanics of the program involve convincing a foreign or domestic friend/relatives/associate to travel to Iligan City and stay for at least 24 hours. Send them the guest coupon (Form B) by mail, fax or ask them to download forms at the website.

Maingat said the guest shall fill out the guest coupon and submit the forms needed to the City Tourism Office.

"If all requirements have been submitted and validated, the discount coupon (Form C) shall be stamped and issued by a tourism official. Guest/s should stay in Iligan for at least 24 hours (either in hotels, inns, pension house or a resident's house) before discount coupons shall be officially stamped and be issued," Maingat added.

She said the invitee/host shall be the official holder of the Discount Coupon and can be used in participating establishments during the validity period indicated in the coupon.

"We initially introduced this program a year ago and we have a directory of establishments accredited by our office for this program. We have categorized our tourists as domestic, balikbayan and foreign," she said.

From January to June this year, the tourism office had already recorded 55,201 domestic, 223 balikbayan and 822 foreign tourists, which totaled 56,246, compared with the 42,819 tourists (39,943 domestic, 1,126 for balikbayan and 1,750 foreign) during the same period last year.

Based on their data, Maingat said they had a trending increase of tourist influx from 2005 with 66,105; 2006 with 83,058; 2007 with 97,071; and 2008 with 99,356 while in 2009, tourists totaled 89,317.

"We thought of having this program on its full swing this year because the city will be celebrating two huge events -- the Tourism Week and the City Fiesta Celebration, with much-awaited activities that will surely capture the interests of our tourists, domestic and foreign alike," she said.

In the long-term, she added that more tourists will translate to economic development concretely manifested through increased income, more employment opportunities and more investments. (PIA)