PROPOSAL FOR HEALING SOLUTIONS FOR TOURISM CHALLENGE
DESCRIPTION OF THE PROJECT/START-UP:
The project being proposed is 2 layered and aptly called:
“BRING HOME A FRIEND”
The first project abbreviated as (BHAF) involves having the National Tourism Organization (NTO) undertake a program that shall have a campaign for a referral incentive program wherein, for example: Filipinos will invite Filipinos and foreigner friends and their families living overseas to visit the country and will have the chance to win a package of prizes every two (2) months. The duration of the program shall be after the lockdown (sometime July 1, 2020 until December 31, 2022). By the last quarter of 2021, the UNWTO shall declare the whole year of 2022 as International Travel Year whereby, UNWTO shall encourage all countries in the world and their tourism supply chains to prepare, beautify and provide incentives to encourage families/friends to travel around the world. Such travel year shall target both domestic tourism and inbound tourism. Potential incentives could be air land and sea packages, hotel and restaurant promos, attractions and destination promos, visa on arrival, etc. Each country could develop its own exciting take of this project. Structurally, the BHAF program will be the first layer while UNWTO International Travel Year as the second layer of the project.
After the lockdown, the would be travellers will feel safer if invited by a friend. The BHAF scheme would involve having several tourism package tours for travellers to choose from and recommended by a friend. Such booking will set in motion the tourist supply chain actors who are participating in the program e.g. hotels, tour operators, transportation etc.) to facilitate the travel of the visitor. Immigration shall have a special lane for BHAF program participants. Crucial will be the practice of safety as mandated by WHO and social distancing, the IT technology to make seamless booking, the institutional support by the host country to generate dedicated handling of the guest and the synergy of the participating actors.
Given the safety concerns on COVID 19, the assurance of a friend to a friend is one of the best comforting factor for a family or a friend to travel to the Philippines or any host country. This project shall involve almost all Filipinos and be more patriotic given the trying times, but at the same time give them rewards for their participation. “When invited by Filipinos themselves, the guests are met at the airport, brought around the different tourist sites, invited to family dinners or lunches, and even invited to stay in their homes. All these gestures make for a strong feeling of security and family ties.” This project has been tried with great success in the Philippines in 1994.
The mechanics of the BHAF are the following:
Interested sponsors or referees must first access the BHAF official website or apps — accessible via the NTO’s website or at Google play store — and sign up for the Sponsor registration. Sponsors must completely fill out the following fields during sign-up:
After the sign up, the sponsor only needs to click the activation link to confirm his/her email address and completed registration process. Only sponsors who have successfully signed up and confirmed their registration via email are qualified to invite. Sponsors must log-in at the BHAF website and fill out the form in the “Invite A Friend Now” tab by providing the invitees’ details as follows:
Invitees must upload in the website through the link email the photo (in JPG format) of the following proofs of his/her travel:
The number of raffle entries per registered invitee will depend on the invitee’s point of origin: (For example if coming from the Philippines).
Only entries present in the NTO’s system database within the promo duration are valid. All sponsors and invitees are presumed to have read and understood, as well as agree and abide by, the promo’s complete terms and regulations.
Winners will be selected through electronic raffle draw every two months from the electronic randomizer housed at the IT department of the National Tourism Organization. There will be a grand draw by July 2022 and December 2022. Both the sponsor and the invitee get prizes. In the past there where 10 top prizes and 10 consolation prizes.
All winners will be notified via email and SMS. List of winners will also be posted on the NTO’s website and social media accounts.
For example, during the first BHAF grand raffle draw, the first prize for the sponsor was a House and Lot and for the invitee was first class airline ticket for two (2) anywhere in the Philippines plus full accommodation and meals.
HOW DOES THE PROJECT MEETS THE CRITERIA OF THE HEALING SOLUTION FOR TOURISM CHALLENGE?
The project is innovative because it is a departure from the model of only tour operators and travel agents are inviting and handling travellers. The program is more personal and assuring specialty now where travellers are conscious of being safe on their travel. Core and production values are added because it will involve all actors in the tourism supply chain of the Philippines or other countries for that matter; by invigorating them with more focus and less risk alternative to continue and propagate their business by attracting new tourism arrivals that takes into consideration the health, social, and economic concerns after the lockout;
This program has been successfully tried in 1994 by the Philippine Department of Tourism and relaunch in 2017. Please refer to this website on the article of the column of the original proponent of this BHAF Program (https://businessmirror.com.ph/2017/12/03/bring-home-a-friend-ii/). To quote “The result of this campaign was a complete turnaround of the visitor arrivals. The US took the top spot in tourist arrivals. But most interesting was that the tour operators overseas began to incorporate the program into their tour offerings. It became an extra incentive for people to travel to the Philippines.”
The rough business plan of this project consists of the following:
The target market shall be the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia and Japan where a large Filipino community resides. Based on a 2016 visitor sample survey, 51 percent of tourists that came to the country were upon their friends’ recommendations and 14 percent have friends and relatives in the country.
Promotion will be undertaken through the internet, social media, the embassies, and the UNWTO and its network of organizations.
The Philippines has numerous attractions that caters to different types of tourism attractive to families like beaches, nature, and historical sites. This in addition to the warmth and hospitality of the Filipino people.
The Philippines has sufficient and developed tourism supply chains that could participate in this program.
There will be investment in IT technology to enable the NTO, and tour operators, travel agents to provide seamless booking with real time facilitation and coordination to the different actors of the tourism supply chain both in the domestic and foreign sectors. This might include social media, smart phone apps and encrypted payments.
Additional investments will be needed to effect social distancing until a vaccine has been developed for the corona virus.
The institutional aspects like the national and local government units need to be integrated and synergized to implement health safety and security which will require more equipment and manpower.
The financial entailments of this project is not huge. It will utilize existing resources within the country with the NTO and the private sectors providing top prizes. Additional investments will only be required for better IT for marketing/promotion/booking and for heath safety and security especially in the destinations and transportation aspect.
This project has been launched successfully in 1994 and 2017 in the Philippines and launched in the US, Korea, Japan, Middle East, Canada and London. It has proven to be a good generator of visitors given its personal touch.
This project has a great potential of being applied in many countries. In fact, during its first run two (2) countries requested if they could use the program. Ironically while the increasing globalization has caused the corona virus to spread worldwide, globalization could also be the platform in which this program can be replicated in other countries. The first phase is the BHAF project for each country to implement on their own, but on the second phase the UNWTO shall declare 2022 as the International Travel Year (ITY) which will give impetus to the BHAF. By 2022 it is expected that vaccines and other safety measures would have been in place to make the BHAF a global project that is more widespread and responsive to the need of families and friends to travel.