MANILA – The Department of Tourism (DOT) is planning to put up a tourism hotline that both local and foreign travelers can use when traveling around the Philippines.
During the launch of the Travel Tour Expo 2023 on Friday, Tourism Secretary Christina Frasco disclosed that the "tourist assistance call center" could be launched by the end of the year.
"This year, we are launching a tourist assistance call center that will cater to any and all requests for information and assistance. We fully intend for this tourist assistance call center to be multilingual so as to be able to correspond to the needs of international tourists as well," Frasco said in her speech.
She said she envisions the call center as a one-stop shop where tourists could get information and raise their travel concerns.
Philippine Travel Agencies Association president Michelle Taylan hailed it as a good initiative, especially as borders reopen and more foreign tourists come in.
"It's a really good initiative. It's also good to lessen some scammers and also so that it would be easier for us to help our tourists, especially the foreigners," she said in an interview.
Tourism powerhouses, such as Thailand and South Korea, use a similar mechanism where travelers could easily contact their tourism authorities in case of travel-related emergencies or simply for recommendations of top tourist attractions.
The travel hotlines in both countries run 24/7.
Aside from this, the DOT will also come up with a Tourist Lifecycle App, which Frasco said would serve as a "super app" that connects tourists to accredited tourism establishments, rides, restaurants, tour operators, and tour guides.
The app will feature an e-commerce platform that showcases Filipino products.
'Not the new slogan'
Frasco likewise announced the Bisita Be My (BBM) Guest Program, a guest incentive system for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).
She, however, clarified that this is not the new tourism slogan, which is currently under review.
"This is not the new tourism slogan of the Philippines as some have misrepresented. Rather, this is a guest incentive program intended to invite and benefit OFWs that bring home a relative or a friend to the Philippines with raffle prizes, discounts, and privileges for them as they tour around the country," Frasco said in a separate letter Friday.
The slogan, she said, is currently under review "in the hopes that it may positively evolve, as we all have, after everything we've been through.”
The new slogan, she said, would reflect the "strength and the richness of our identity as a Filipino brand."
By bringing guests into the Philippines, OFWs participating in the guest incentive program will qualify for raffles and a privilege card that they can use for discounts in accredited establishments across the country. (PNA)