Manila, Philippines –THINK 60 years back, before the advent of television, cable TV, and the world wide web. Back then, one sure had to walk a lot and brush up on polite conversation to get a date, much more push a business. In those times, friends were mostly people you knew since grade school. Salesmen had to go house to house to sell gadgets and stuff. Summer vacation usually meant going to the province, in your Lola’s house near the beach.
Now fastforward to 2010.
Government data puts the number of Filipinos who use the internet at 15 million. These “netizens“ are mostly madeup of upwardly mobile professionals, businessmen, academicians, children of rich folks, and a stream of OFWs that use the internet to chat or send email to their loved ones.
While the number of online Pinoys is still small compared to the majority of the 95 million Filipinos that make up this country, a good number of these netizens belong to the so-called “comfortable“ class of Philippine society.
By “comfortable,“ I refer to the upwardly mobile middle class, the rich, and the uber-rich among us.
This comfortable slab of Filipino humanity the wellspring of our nation’s consumer base is the best bet of the aspiring travel and tourism entrepreneur. And at no time in the history of fast-selling has this select group been readily sourced and collectively reached through the wonder of the internet.
New Media, the collective term for the 21st century’s state-of-the-art communication technology, is fastchanging the landscape of travel and tourism in the Philippines. It has powered the sales and prospects of travel agencies, resort owners, partner hotels, carriers, and global destination firms.
The promising picture, however, still needs a lot of support from the national and local governments. An honest government effort to boost Philippine tourism is desperately needed, especially in the post-Quirino Grandstand botched hostage rescue scenario. Even before this debacle, tourist arrivals in the country already stood at 2.5 million in 2009, compared to Malaysia’s 17.4 million and Thailand’s 12.8 million tourist arrivals.
For people in the Travel and Tourism sector, much work needs to be done. And with new media, things can only get better and better. We hope our Visayas Media Forum with “New Media in the Service of Tourism“ as its theme at the Boracay Regency on Sept. 25-26, could help our tourism industry grow faster.