It was in 1994 when former Tourism Secretary Mina Gabor launched this highly successful referral incentive program, to further increase arrivals to the Philippines. It is anchored on the opportunity presented by the presence of millions of Filipinos residing and/or working abroad.
It is then no surprise that our Tourism Secretary Wanda Tulfo-Teo decided to bring the program back, this time, with much bigger and better prizes, to encourage foreign-based Filipinos to help promote Philippine tourism.
Based on a report by the Department of Foreign Affairs, there are more than nine million overseas Filipinos; approximately three million in the USA, around two million in the Middle East, while significant numbers in Malaysia, Japan, China, Italy and Australia. Secretary Teo is counting on the Filipinos’ deep sense of patriotism, which can be put to good use by making them Ambassadors of Goodwill for our country.
On the other hand, expatriates living in our country total approximately 200,000, based on the latest Census of Population and Housing. These foreigners can also be effective travel influencers for their relatives and friends in their home country, especially because word-of-mouth is the most effective advertisement for any product.
According to the Department of Tourism’s Visitors Sample Survey last year, 52 percent of tourists visited our country upon their friend’s recommendation, while 14 percent have relatives or friends residing here.
So what is the Bring Home A Friend Program all about? The Promo period started Oct. 15 and will last until April 15 next year, after which the winners---three sponsors and three invitees---will be announced. The sponsor can be any Filipino or a foreign passport holder, 18 years old and above, whether residing here or abroad, or an expatriate living here. The invitee can be anyone residing abroad, holding a foreign or Filipino passport, and will travel to the Philippines during the Promo period.
Interested sponsors must register through the “Bring Home A Friend” link, which is accessible through DOT’s website “tourism.gov.ph” for them to be qualified to invite. The sponsor must click on and accomplish the “Invite A Friend Now” tab. The invitees will receive an e-mail with the link to a registration form they must also accomplish.
Once available, the invitees must upload on the link, photos of their boarding passes and airline tickets. They will then receive their raffle entries---one raffle ticket, if travelling from Asia, two, if from the Middle East or Oceania, and three, if travelling from the USA, Europe or Africa. Winners will be selected through an electronic raffle draw.
And take a look at these prizes: For the sponsors, the first prize is a 36.6-square-meter, studio-type condominium unit at Eastwood Le Grand Tower of Megaworld Corporation. The second prize is a metallic orange 2017 automatic transmission Toyota Vios, and the third prize is a P200 thousand worth of gift certificate from Duty Free Philippines.
For the Invitees, the first prize is a package of two round-trip international business-class tickets, plus two round-trip tickets between Manila and Palawan, and a five-night accommodation at El Nido Hotel and Resort. The second prize is another package of two round-trip international premium economy class tickets, plus two round-trip tickets between Manila and Cebu, and a four-night stay at JPark Island Resort and Water Park. The third prize is also a package of two round-trip international economy class tickets, plus two round-trip tickets between Manila and Davao, and a fou-night stay at Pearl Farm Beach Resort. International and domestic air travel will be on Philippine Airlines.
It is very clear to see that Tourism Secretary Teo has pulled all the stops to ensure an even bigger success of this year’s edition of the Bring Home A Friend program. But, with or without these valuable prizes, I still think that visiting the Philippines is already a “grand prize” in itself. Where else can one find the breathtaking beauty of nature enhanced by world-famous hospitality of the “smiling-est” people on earth? Indeed, It Is More Fun In The Philippines.
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