The Department of Tourism or DOT is set to launch a campaign that aims to promote and showcase the Philippines’ rich and diverse culture, arts, and heritage through a series of caravans in the first quarter of 2023, encouraging and increasing travel among Filipinos and foreign visitors.
The project entitled Philippine Experience: Culture, Heritage, and Arts Caravans seek “to diversify the cultural tourism product offerings of the country, equalize opportunities across the regions, support the preservation of the country’s heritage, and artistic resources and assets, and instill a sense of pride and patriotism among the Filipino people through a greater appreciation of the country’s inheritance and legacy”.
Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia-Frasco has set in motion the Philippine Experience: Culture, Heritage, and Arts Caravans last October 17, 2022 at the Philippine Tourism Industry Convergence Reception which was also attended by President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr., First Lady Louise Araneta Marcos, Vice President Sara Z. Duterte, along with top officials and executives from various tourism industries. In the course of the program, the DOT regional directors from the Cordilleras down to Mindanao gave a glimpse of the Philippine Experience Caravans by showcasing living traditions, colors, festivals, local symbols, and traditional attire in their respective regions.
The DOT is ‘positive’ on the possibilities of the country’s tourism and economic recovery given that the Philippines has also remained a top-of-mind destination pick among foreign travelers in the previous year. Tourism Secretary Frasco added that “the Philippines ushers in a new era for tourism built upon the strength of our cultural identity, our unity as a nation and renewed global interest in our country’s offerings. Our shared tourism governance will spell the success of our aspirations for a sustainable, inclusive, and resilient tourism industry. Together, we will transform the Philippines into a tourism powerhouse in Asia.”
The campaign gives importance to the Filipino brand and identity in all aspects of travel and tourism experiences, emphasizing heritage, culture, and arts. This is also to improve the current tour and domestic circuit offerings that include thematic experiences on food and gastronomy, pilgrimage and wellness, festival, living cultures and heritage, and arts. Another objective of the Philippine Experience project is to bridge key destinations to lesser-known destinations and expand the country’s tourism portfolio, including beach, nature, diving, food, education, health, MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences, exhibitions), and farm tourism.
As a native of Cebu, Tourism Sec. Frasco said that the project was inspired by the Suroy Suroy Sugbo, a flagship tourism program of the province of Cebu that was initiated by her mother, Governor Gwendolyn F. Garcia in 2008, which remains until this day. She also added that it is through this particular project that the province was successfully repositioned as a prime destination for tourism, highlighting white sand beaches, dive spots, as well as hidden tourism gems.
Frasco emphasized that the DOT will also be strengthening promotions and prioritizing the opening of tourism of Mindanao. In addition, she said that they will be putting the spotlight on destinations and regions that were not previously promoted. To ensure the project is going to be successfully set in place, Frasco said that they are already coordinating with the Department of National Defense and the Department of the Interior and Local Government to provide security to travelers coming to the southern area of the country.
A tourism project such as this is in line with the goal of President Marcos Jr. to reintroduce the beauty of the Philippines to the world — with the tourism industry serving as a vital tool to aid in the resurgence of the Philippine economy from the impacts of the pandemic.
As Tourism Secretary Frasco took pride in the initiatives of the project, she also hopefully and assuringly stated that “we are just at the beginning of our journey and I assure you that the best days of the tourism industry are yet to come.”