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DOT launches Bring Home a Friend (BHAF) campaign in South Korea

Launching event for "Bring Home a Friend(BHAF) to the Philippines" in Korea was held on Dec. 17 at Lotte Hotel in downtown Seoul with the participation of HE Raul S. Hernandez, Ambassador of the Republic of the Philippines to Korea and 500 plus Philippine expats in Korea and invited Korean guests including media representatives.

For the important tourism promotion event, Philippine Tourism Secretary Wanda Corazon Teo flew into Seoul with Undersecretary Katherine de Castro.

On hand at the event also included Ms Mario Corazon Jordq-Apo, tourism attache Department of Tourism Korea and Mr.Aleen Vasquezm General Manager, RAKSO CT.

In his welcome remarks, Amb. Hernandez said that the people-to-people exchangea between the Philippines and South Korea have become in recent years one of the most meaningful and moving anchors of Philippines-Korea relations.

"Interaction between Filpinos and Koreahs has long been on an upward trajectory. More and more Filipinos go to this country for work, marriage, and studies, while Koreans continue to travel, study and start businesses in the country," he said.

In terms of tourism, he went on to say that the Philippines continuea to regard South Korea as an enduing market of high value for tourism.

"Since 2006, South Korea has been the top source of foreign tourists to the Philippines . It is hearteninng to note that this year, from January to October, a total of 1,332,141 Koreans visited the Philippines, accounting for 24.33 percent of total arrivals," Amb. Hernandez," pointed out.

The distinct yet proximate geographic locations, as well as the rich biodiversity, flora and fauna, white sand beaches, mountains, rainforests, diverse marine life and dive sites, prove to be to the Philippines' biggest advantage. But probably the most important factor that guarantees every Korean's repeat visit is the warm and friendly welcome Filipinols effortlessly extend to every Korean visitor. he stressed.

Thanking for all for coming for this reunion of sorts, Secretary Teo said :"Indeed, today marks an important milestone for all of us in the Department of Tourism as we unveil here in Seoul the most anticipated return of a widely successful institutional legacy—an incentive travel program launched by the DOT back in 1994, the Bring Home a Friend."

It was exactly twenty three years ago today when Filipinos first heard about this simple, yet meaningful invitation to the Philippines from a dear friend, former Tourism Secretary Mina Gabor, she said.

"As the program finds its way back to the Philippines’ top source market, we find ourselves face to face with old friends, some of whom have been our frequent guests, while others still have not gone to Manila or any of our destinations and are yearning for a warm homecoming,"she said.

Bring Home a Friend is our way of saying to the growing Korean tourist market—now counting to over 1.2 million—as well as for the rest of our 5.4 million friends from China, the United States and all around the world who came and visited the Philippines this year—that our country will always be a home, Secretary Teo said..

It is an affirmation of the world renowned Filipino hospitality. Nowhere else in the world will you find a people so welcoming, so accepting.

As 2017 draws to a close, we can now say that it has been a rather challenging year for travel and tourism. We have seen it all—from fundamentalist extremism in London, Manchester, New York, and Marawi, among other places, to inevitable natural disasters, to financial crises left and right. However, it is reassuring to note that the tourism industry remains resilient as people continue traveling despite these threats and disruptions to the world.

The last few months have revealed that confidence is important, and Philippine tourism continues to keep a high profile in the world travel radar. We have kept our strong presence here in Korea and in other travel markets, generating double digit growth in visitor arrivals.

Our persistence to stay on the tourism game has enabled the Philippines to join the ranks of the World’s Top Best Islands for Palawan, Boracay, Cebu, and Palawan (Conde Nast and Travel & Leisure), Best Budget Travel Destinations (Forbes), 8th in the World Medical Tourism Destination (Medical Tourism Index), among others.

As a result of our focus and discipline, we had been able to keep the numbers up. International arrivals to the Philippines continue to be robust, owing it to President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s firm resolve in dealing with threats creating a more secure and safe environment and raising tourists’ confidence.

Time and again, we believe that the Philippines is one of the world’s most exciting destination brands. We should realize that our country has so much to offer, from its natural bounties unparalleled elsewhere in the world, our rich heritage, and diverse cultures.

"We must continue engaging the world, as we have aggressively been doing since Day One and we ought to do so throughout my term as Tourism Secretary," she stressed..

"Tourism is our shared responsibility. We need the world and we like to think the world needs us—our warm and hospitable people, our ideal location, and our complete travel experience as a destination," Teo said..

Building on the success of Bring Home a Friend is certainly a daunting task for us in the DOT. Not only because the Filipinos have placed the bar so high, but also because we all want this reunion of sorts to be a redefining moment for Philippine tourism.

The success of this program is certainly not about the accolades or the numbers. It is not about counting the number of tourists getting off the plane that really matters. The success we are hoping for is to empower our people and give them opportunity to contribute to the nation’s growth through the number of business that tourism creates, the number of jobs it generates, and the number of lives it improves.They are, after all, the core strength of our tourism campaign.

And make no mistake, Bring Home a Friend is more than just bringing friends and family back home. It is an invitation to continue celebrating the Filipino way of life.

Bring Home a Friend is our shout-out to the world to come and see the Philippines: a country of diverse cultures, rich traditions, and unrivaled biodiversity.

"How about you, when was the last time you came to the Philippines? When was the last time you came home?

As part of the programme, Bring Home A Friend Presentation was made by Undersecretary Katherine de Castro, Office od Public Affairs, Communications and Special Projects(OPACSP) and concurrent Officer-In-Charge for Philippine Commission on Sports Scuba Diving(PCSSD), Department of Tourism which was created by then, Former President Ferdinand E. Marcos.

The Commission is mandated to promulgate programs and projects geared to the development of the country as a premier diving area in Asia.

It is responsible for formulating rules, regulations, safety standards and operating procedures to implement the development of Sports SCUBA Diving.

The Commission also undertakes studies, researches and surveys for possible incentives to the private sector who may wish to undertake projects and programs beneficial to the development of SCUBA Diving Tourism within the framework of related Presidential Decrees.

The Commission is expressly directed to formulate and implement programs on marine conservation, particularly those areas of high touristic value.

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