Bring Home A Friend Program

The Department of Tourism (DOT) is rallying Filipino expats in North America, particularly young professionals, millennials, and social media influencers to join and support the “Bring Home a Friend” program.

Originally launched by former Tourism Secretary Mina Gabor in 1994, Tourism Secretary Wanda Tulfo-Teo is reviving this incentive travel program because the Philippines’ second top source for foreign arrivals continues to be from North America.

The Bring Home a Friend program, as conceived by Gabor, spotlights the Filipino’s world-renowned hospitality and friendly nature. The program itself aims to provide free flights, hotel accommodations for friends while touring beautiful destinations such as Siquijor, Masbate, Negros Province, Palawan, Cebu, Baguio, Davao or Ilocos. Secretary Teo hopes on banking on the travel and tourism industry partners’ full support for the program.

Among the program’s initial target markets are 2nd and 3rd generation Filipino-Americans who are looking for more leisure travel activities.

While the mechanics for the incentive program is still in development, Teo explained that the DOT plans to run “Invite Home a Friend” every quarter of the year via a raffle draw.

“We are hoping to award two lucky (a balikbayan and a friend-nominee) winners beginning September this year. Travel reward may be used anytime between January and April 2018,” the tourism chief said, describing the effort as DOT’s way of saying thanks to Filipino balikbayans.

Teo already instructed the DOT Los Angeles to spread the word out among Filipino-American communities such as recent events where Secretary Teo spoke to over one-hundred Filipino-American community leaders on July 20, 2017 at Mayflower Restaurant in Los Angeles—an event organised and sponsored by the Asian Journal Media Group.

DOT-Los Angeles Attache Richmond Jimenez echoed Teo’s message that the program is a great way to thank our kababayans from the US who continue to not only come to the Philippines themselves but always tag along a friend or relative to visit and experience the Philippines.

“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,” Jimenez went on to say.

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

It is interesting to note that 54.40 percent of them came to the Philippines upon friend’s recommendation, while 14.20 percent have friends or relatives in the country.
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