“Selling PH is like selling Chicken Joy,” says new Tourism Secretary Ramon Reyes Jimenez in a press conference at the Malacañang Palace earlier last month. I have no doubt in his confidence to make the country top the tourism industry in the world. After all, no one beats his credentials as a czar in advertising.
I like his idea of comparing Jollibee’s Chicken Joy to our country itself. That would mean world-class. That would mean he is conceited that the Philippines is ‘crispylicious’ and ‘juicylicous.’ However, when he said, “The Philippines is the most beautiful country in the world,” I wonder if he is even close to the truth, and if all he can do is just plain sales talk and advertising.
You see, there is much more about Jollibee than the Chicken Joy itself. And again, no matter how beautiful our country is, if the environment and facilities is the irony of Jollibee’s, then the booming of our country’s tourism cannot begin soon enough.
Customers go to Jollibee not only because of their delicious Chicken Joy but because of their accommodation, strategic location to the masses, clean comfort rooms, neat surroundings, and attentive and well-trained staff. This is what I’m talking about. The Philippines lacks these things.
The Philippines is a very beautiful country, that’s not a question anymore. But I am also very sure that tourists won’t be coming back after they found out that a paradise like ours has nasty-smelling comfort rooms, terrible services in some restaurants, aging airports, and bumpy roads.
Now, is selling the Philippines like selling Chicken Joy? I don’t think so. That would mean selling the Philippines like the fried chicken found in our public sidewalks where there are no spoons, forks, and plates, not to mention the high risk of Hepatitis to the customers because of its extreme exposure to dust and smoke.
For our tourism industry to succeed, we need to reshape the physical appearance of our country. We need to invest more on infrastructures. We need to create more concrete and wide roads, maintain the cleanliness of our tourist spots, remodel and renovate all of our international airports, fix the rates of the hotels and restaurants, and lastly, supply enough manpower that are well-trained and service-oriented.
In other words, advertising is not enough. The beautiful beaches and breath-taking sceneries are not enough. For the Philippines to be truly world-class, we need to be world-class in all aspects.