PERFECT IS THE TIMING TO RE-BRAND TO “Behold Bohol” after the province’s sensational recovery from the 2013 Earthquake. That the New Bohol Airport in Panglao is just around the corner, makes the timing even more impeccable.
Aside from the picturesque beaches which can globally compete- Bohol will brandish its cutting edge in terms of environment preservation, culture and historical legacy . This was bared in the grand “Behold Bohol” launching last week at the resplendent Marco Polo hotel in Ortigas Manila.
This so-called ” destination branding” is a newfangled notion in modern business marketing. It singles out the strongest assets of the destination which offer a competitive edge designed to give a “personal experience” to the tourist.
“Destination branding” cares more about the “holistic experience” of the beholder rather than be focused on the destination itself. That explains why destination branding is target market specific -aligning the tour facets to each one’s tour expectations.
Like all successful branding, such, of course, has to be communicated well- then followed by all parties converging to execute the “experience desired” for the tourist and be monitored if it scored a bullseye.
No destination branding is carved on stone, however,-it has to be imperically proven in its effectivity and be rehashed if necessary.
Bohol has unique features that pull it out of a mediocrity of a “pure beach experience” of a Boracay. We have the iconic chocolate hills and the
mystery of a tarsier, the quiet green of our rivers in Loboc and Abatan.
There are the history-laden, 15th century churches in most towns plus old Spanish homes. We have man-made forests and parks and a new spiritual sanctuary in the island of Padre Pio off Panglao.
New land has emerged along our coasts, interesting fault lines from the earthquake , preserved mangrove domains, interesting caves and bountiful waterfalls. We have a rich history dating back from the days of Kapitan Laulapu to the rise of our first Philippine president.
Bohol has many native dishes and our agriculture is bannered by acres of coconut trees and verdant rice fields and distinct cultural dances, languages and songs.
Bohol can be many things to many people. But it should not try to be everything to everyone. That, in fact, is the essence of “”destination branding. Look at other nations.
Scotland is the Home of Golf, France- the Center of Gastronomy, Denmark of Peace and Quiet and New Zealand a progressive agri-country and so on. Tourists are searching for specific experiences, for instance, the British looking for sun and sand and the Chinese for relaxation and activities. We need to tailor fit our destinations to them.
Countries sell their different customs, architecture, history,climate and values . The sooner we realize the diversity of options and recognizing our strengths , the sooner we can make a success of “destination branding”.
It is more than just slogans like: Amazing Thailand, Vietnam: A Timeless Charm, Incredible India, Taiwan: Heart of Asia, Cambodia: Know It, Love It and our own It’s More Fun in the Philippines.
“Destination branding” is more than that – it is the promise of an experience. A specific , defined one.
Tourism is one the world’s largest industries- globally providing 1 of every 12 jobs globally. Luckily , we are inside the Asia Pacific region which (in the last few years) had displayed the highest growth in number of international visitors, according to United Nations statistics.
ASEAN , likewise, is working to make tourism 15% of the total GDP of the nations therein by the year 2025. Two years ago even domestically -50 million Filipinos traveled – aided by cheaper airline tickets due to low gasoline and oil prices due to depressed international prices of oil per barrel.
Arming Bohol, therefore, to get a share of this monster industry through Destination Branding is just what the doctor ordered.