Salceda bats for ‘sulong’ revival


A leader of the House of Representatives on Monday pushed for the revival of nationwide “Sulong Pilipinas” consultations with stakeholders for genuine rebrand and restart of the country’s tourism sector.

House Committee on Ways and Means Chairman Joey Sarte Salceda issued the proposal amid controversies involving the Department of Tourism’s (DOT) Love The Philippines campaign video.

“The country must gain something productive from these heated discussions, nationwide consultations with tourism stakeholders on how to really rebrand and restart the country’s tourism sector,” he said.

“The back-and-forth of statements was good for revealing what needs to be improved. But we have to move forward. Let’s genuinely sit down and talk,” Salceda said.

The lawmaker from Albay earlier said the issue involving the contractor who used stock footage in the promotional video “proves my earliest point about the DOT either apologizing to Albay [for not including Mayon Volcano], or firing the consultant.”

“We used to do that a lot in the past. We did Sulong Pilipinas for the general direction of the country’s government. That shot off to Sulong Agrikultura and Sulong Edukasyon, where government agencies would consult their stakeholders closely and seriously. At the end of each consultation, you had actionable points that were submitted to the President to be given the highest priority,” he said.

“That’s how Dutertenomics was born. That’s where Build, Build, Build came. Comprehensive Tax Reform Program, Ease of Doing Business Act, Rice Tariffication, the Universal Health Care Law—all came from those consultations,” Salceda added.

“Sulong Pilipinas,” was “an annual consultative conference that brings together different stakeholders from all over the country.”

Salceda said the previous administration explained it as “a platform through which the government can provide updates on our country’s achievements. More importantly, Sulong is a way through which the administration receives feedback on its proposed plans and programs.”

“Let’s do Sulong Turismo. Let’s consult the stakeholders nationwide on the six As of tourism: Attractions, Accessibility, Amenities, Available Packages, Activities, and Ancillary Services. If I may add two particular points: Airport and Airlines. All our fiercest competitors have beautiful airports and top-tier airlines,” Salceda added.

Salceda also said that the branding campaign of the DOT must “reflect improvements in what this country offers tourists.”

“If the experience doesn’t change, the impression will not change. So, beyond rebranding, we need to make genuine improvements in key areas in the sector. Remember, the pandemic reset the whole global tourism sector,” he said.

“You need to set the agenda before you set the brand. Branding is a fool’s exercise without a good product to sell. A promising slogan without real improvements in the fundamentals is a false pretense. As a slogan, ‘Love the Philippines’ is demanding enough on a foreign tourist’s first date with this country. Let’s at least give them reasons to do so,” he added.