MANILA -- An incentive program to attract more Filipino balikbayans or expatriates to revisit the Philippines will be making a comeback under the Duterte administration next month, the Department of Tourism (DOT) said Tuesday.
Introduced by former DOT Secretary Mina Gabor in 1994, the Bring Home a Friend (BHAF) program will be revived on Oct. 14 and will run for six months with a slight change in mechanics.
Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo, in a press conference at the DOT office in Makati City, said the program is meant to get “Sponsors” (balikbayans or expatriates) urged by “Invitees” to revisit the Philippines. Both Sponsor and Invitee have a chance to win prizes.
For his part, DOT Assistant Secretary and spokesperson Frederick Alegre said that this time, the agency will allow Filipinos with dual citizenships as Sponsors.
For a Sponsor to qualify in the contest, he or she must be a Filipino with a Philippine passport or with dual citizenship living here or abroad as a resident or overseas contract worker, foreigner draw (expatriates) who is living in the Philippines temporarily or permanently for a minimum of six months prior to the raffle, and institutions, corporations and associations in the Philippines.
On the other hand, an invitee must hold a foreign passport or must be a dual citizen living abroad for a minimum of six months prior to the event and has traveled to the Philippines during the specified period of time.
DOT said that its attached agencies and employees and their relatives to the third degree are not allowed to join.
The project will be launched in eight major source markets -- New York, USA; Los Angeles, USA; San Francisco USA; Seoul, South Korea; Tokyo, Japan; Dubai, UAE; Vancouver, Canada; and London, United Kingdom.
Prizes up for grabs for the Sponsor include a condominium (first prize), a car (second prize), and gift certificates from Duty Free Philippines (third prize).
Meanwhile, prizes for the Invitee include two roundtrip international business class tickets plus two roundtrip domestic tickets to Palawan (first prize), two roundtrip international premium economy tickets plus two roundtrip domestic tickets to Cebu (second prize), and two roundtrip international economy tickets plus two roundtrip domestic tickets to Davao (third prize).
To join, the Sponsor and Invitee must duly accomplish the registration via the Bring Home a Friend microsite accessible via the Department’s website web.tourism.gov.ph or through the booths located at specific airports.
There are currently 9.1 million overseas Filipinos, according to the 2015 report issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).
Meanwhile, expatriates living in the country accounted to nearly 200,000 based on the latest Census of Population and Housing issued in 2010.
According to the DOT 2016 Visitors Sample Survey, around 51.80 percent of tourists came to the Philippines upon their friend’s recommendation, while 14.10 percent have friends or relatives in the country. (PNA)