Senate tourism committee chairman Nancy Binay urged the Department of Tourism (DOT) to focus on enhancing its iconic “more fun in the Philippines” brand instead of pursuing a new campaign that she believes “commodifies Filipinos”.
“I remain hopeful that the DOT will reconsider its rebranding plan. Instead, let’s continue the ‘It’s More Fun…’ campaign and come up with fresh variations of ‘Fun’ in the Philippines,” Binay expressed on Wednesday.
Binay’s call came in response to reports about the DOT’s new Philippines tourism brand, which recently unveiled campaign ads featuring Filipino nurse May Parsons, the first person to administer the world’s approved and fully tested COVID-19 vaccine, along with the slogan, “We give the world our best.”
Binay raised concerns about a specific transit ad seen on London buses, stating, “It’s bothersome when you see the ad because it seems like we are offering the world our nurses, which is a bit off since we are already experiencing a shortage of health workers here.”
The senator acknowledged the DOT’s efforts to boost Philippine tourism but urged the agency to postpone its rebranding plan due to the “inappropriate” messaging.
Binay argued that “The Best” messaging did not align with the government’s aim for Philippine tourism, adding that the country seemed to offer its nurses — “[which is] a bit off because we already lack health workers here,” she added.
“We don’t want to commodify our people, and we don’t want to be labeled as a country that exports labor,” Binay emphasized.
The senator said that the committee appreciated the initiative and the effort to promote the Philippines in the global market.
“However, there seems to be a disconnect in the messaging. Is the ad intended to attract tourists to visit the country? Is it aimed at encouraging more foreign investments? Or is it meant to entice hospitals abroad to hire our nurses? The message is quite vague,” Binay said.
Filipino nurses continue to seek better opportunities abroad due to higher pay and better working conditions. At the height of the pandemic in 2021, hospitals across the country faced mass resignations, worsening its manpower shortage and once again shedding light on the challenges healthcare workers face in the country.
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