DOT revives ‘Visit home, bring a friend’ incentive program

July 30, 2017 - 2:00 PM
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Philippine Tourism Secretary Wanda Tulfo-Teo announces the DOT's "Invite Home a Friend" project before the Filipino-American community during a welcome reception for the government official at the Mayflower restaurant in Los Angeles July 20, 2017. Photo courtesy of DOT.

Los Angeles, California—Department of Tourism (DOT) secretary Wanda Tulfo-Teo wants Filpino expats in North America to visit the Philippines and bring a friend along. Secretary Teo gave the statement during a welcome reception for her held July 20 at the Mayflower restaurant in down town Los Angeles. The gathering was organized by a Filipino-American organization.

In particular, the DOT is asking young professionals, millennials, and social media influencers to support its incentive travel program called “Invite Home a Friend,” which was first launched by former Tourism Secretary Mina Gabor in 1994 for the US travel market, the Philippines’ second top source for foreign arrivals.

Tourism Secretary Wanda Tulfo-Teo receives an award from the California State Assembly. The ceremony was held during a welcome reception at the MayFlower restaurant in Los Angeles. Photo courtesy of DOT.

Gabor’s “Invite Home a Friend” program offers free flights, hotel stays, and more to lucky raffle draw winners. Similarly, although Secretary Teo said the DOT has yet to announce the official rules and mechanics of the campaign, winners will be announced. She shared that she has already instructed the DOT Los Angeles to spread the word among Filipino-American communities.

Saying that the campaign is DOT’s way of thanking the Fil-Am market, she noted, “We are hoping to award two lucky (a balikbayan and a friend-nominee) winners beginning September this year. The travel reward may be used anytime between January and April 2018.”

DOT-Los Angeles attaché Richmond Jimenez agreed with Teo’s message that the campaign isn’t just an expression of gratitude to the community but also an opportunity for more foreign tourists to experience the Philippines.

Jimenez said, “Our people is our strength. With our beautiful destinations as backdrop, it is in the company of great people that makes every visit to the Philippines more memorable and worth coming back for.”

A 2016 survey conducted by the DOT revealed that 56.60% of travelers visiting the Philippines from the US are likely return for a repeat visit. These visitors from the US also stay long in the country at an average of 11.22 nights.

According to a press release by the DOT, “It is interesting to note that 54.40% of them came to the Philippines upon friend’s recommendation, while 14.20% have friends or relatives in the country.”

Tourism Secretary Wanda Tulfo-Teo meets with some of the members of the Filipino-American community in Los Angeles. Secretary Teo was given a welcome reception in a Los Angeles restaurant, July 20, 2017. Photo courtesy of DOT.