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MANILA, Philippines – In spite of the change of national leadership, theaward-winning “It’s More Fun in the Philippines” slogan is here to stay.Wanda Corazon Teo, the person appointed by President-elect Rodrigo Duterte to take over the Department of Tourism (DOT), personally said that it will be retained.

In an interview with Kara David on GMA News TV’s News to Go on Friday, June 17, Teo said, “We will retain it because it has already attracted tourists to come to the Philippines.”

According to the DOT, from January to April 2016 alone, around 2.074 million international tourists arrived in the country, and P18.92 billion has been earned from tourism.

She explained, “Hindi naman ganoon ka-abrupt ito because of a new administration, kailangan ko nang palitan. Hindi naman siguro. (It doesn’t have to be an abrupt change that just because of a new administration, I’ll have to change it. I don’t think so.) The slogan has enticed tourists to come to the Philippines, so I think, we’ll stick to it… and Visit Philippines 2017.” (WATCH: ‘It’s More Fun in the Philippines’ takes over London railway station)

“Later siguro (maybe), we will change the Visit Philippines 2017, but yungIt’s More Fun in the Philippines, that’s a good slogan. It will stay.”

Teo also said that she intends to promote tourism in places apart from Boracay, Palawan, Bohol, Cebu – which she cited.

“The other places are not difficult to sell anymore,” she told GMA News TV. “Yung aking thrust is to really develop the other destinations na medyo di pa kilala (My thrust is to really develop the other destinations which are not as well-known).”

She added, however: “I have to see these places first and I have to sit down with the local government units and check ano ba yung mga lugar na dapat i-develop natin na maganda (what are the beautiful places we can develop).”

On less popular destinations, she said: “I have to look into these places and see ano ba dapat ang gawin namin para ma-develop, para naman angtourist ay pupunta doon (what can we do to develop them, so tourists will flock there).”

Among other things, Teo said that she wants to promote local tourism. “There are many places to see – beautiful places to see in the Philippines,” she said. “Ang problema sa atin is, some, they would rather go to places namalayo. Eh dito naman sa atin, ang daming comparable to other [far] places.”

(The problem with us is, some would rather go to far places. But just here, there are already destinations comparable to other far places.)

Responding to the need for infrastructure, as the lack of it can be an impediment to tourism, Teo recounted how she said that she was seated beside incoming Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Secretary Mark Villar during their first cabinet meeting. (READ: Duterte meets with Cabinet appointees in Manila)

So doon pa lang, sinabi ko na, ‘Ang dami nating mga problema sa mgaroads going to the tourist spots. Medyo ‘di maganda. Can you help me [with] this?'” (READ: DPWH post: Can Mark Villar rise above business interests?)

(Right there, I said, ‘We have so many problems with roads leading to tourist spots. They’re not great. Can you help me with this?)

Sabi niya (He said), ‘Sure, sure. Just let me know. Identify the place, and we will help you.”

Teo also stressed the need to coordinate with the Department of Transportation and Communications to improve airports in the provinces, too. (READ: Aquino signs law creating DICT, restructuring DOTC)

Aside from this, Teo also suggested that she wants to coordinate with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), citing its One Town One Product (OTOP) program, through which, according to the DTI website, “local chief executives of each city and municipality take the lead in identifying, developing, and promoting a specific product or service, which has a competitive advantage.”

“With DTI, siguro if they see ang ganda ng lugar na iyon, ang dami mgaproducts, this can entice tourists to come,” she said.

(With the DTI, if they see the place is beautiful with many products, this can entice tourists to come.)

Teo also responded to criticism pointing out a conflict of interest, as she owns Mt Apo Travel and Tours in Davao City. She said that she had already divested from her business:

“Actually, I divested. That was the first order of the Mayor [Duterte]. You have to divest from your business,” she told GMA News TV. (READ: No conflicts of interest for DOT, DTI picks – Panelo)

When asked about her goals in terms of numbers, as outgoing DOT Secretary Mon Jimenez had a 10-million target in tourist arrivals, Teo replied: “I’ll try my best. I have to sit down first, kasi ‘di pa nga ako nag-meet with [the] DOT people (I haven’t even met with the DOT people). So I have to sit down with them first, and we will see what we can do.” – Rappler.com

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