New Philippines campaign wants travellers to go south

Siargao, Mindanao - Philippines - March 1, 2016: A local tour guide assists a German surfer couple off the boat on Daku Island, part of an island hopping tour in the Southern Philippine Islands.

Travel consultants have warmed up to the new marketing campaign for Mindanao – Go South Philippine Islands – targeted at millennials and adventure seekers, although they believe that it will take time to entice travellers from overseas.

“We haven’t seen a marketing blitz for all of Mindanao for a long time so that’s great especially for the domestic market, but a number of countries still have travel advisories against certain areas in the south, citing the persistence of security issues,” a travel consultant commented.

A local tour guide with tourists on Daku Island, part of an island hopping tour in Siargao, Mindanao 

Christine Constantino, reservation officer for domestic packages at Scorpio Travel and Tours, said the Go South Philippine Islands campaign could help shore up arrivals to Davao, which have dipped since martial law was declared there in May last year.

Bella Calleja, JTB Manila’s manager – corporate team 2 MICE, said that the inbound department is seeing more Japanese visiting Davao after Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe visited the home of Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte last year.

“The prime minister’s visit tells them it’s safe to go. In Davao, our tours include Duterte’s home, but the most popular destination for the Japanese is still the Pearl Farm Resort. And if they want a city centre hotel, they always book the upmarket Marco Polo Davao,” said Bella.

International sporting events are also being brought to Davao to attract millennials, such as the forthcoming Strongest Man in the World competition. In March, the Alveo Ironman 70.3 Davao brought in 1,800 triathletes from 39 countries, and tens of thousands foreign and domestic spectators.

Several agencies are taking active steps to promote Mindanao in the overseas market.

Blue Horizons Travel and Tours’ new product catalogue, for instance, spotlights the surfing capital of Siargao, and also features tours of Davao, Cagayan de Oro and Camiguin.

Edna Calleja, executive vice president and general manager of Multi Destinations, said the company is planning to offer tours to the lesser-known destination of Lake Sebu, which offers picturesque lake views, seven waterfalls and has high cultural value.

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