DOT revives 1994’s “Bring Home a Friend” program

Image via Lakbay Pilipinas

The “Bring Home a Friend” program of the Department of Tourism (DOT) is set to be revived in October; aiming to involve more Filipinos in bringing in foreign tourists to the country.

The program was launched during the presidency of Fidel V. Ramos in 1994, and its main objective was to uplift the tourism industry.

Tourism Secretary Wanda Tulfo-Teo said in a press conference on Tuesday that the program re-launching is timed with the start of the traditionally long Christmas season and will run until summer 2018.

“We would like to close the year strongly for the tourism industry in terms of visitor arrivals and carry the momentum into the coming year,” the Secretary said.

She also said that the main objective of it is to encourage Filipinos to invite their foreign friends to come and visit the Philippines.

The Department added excitement to the program by announcing that the Filipino sponsors, who are either based in the Philippines or overseas, have the chance to win great prizes.

The program will run for six months, starting Oct. 15, 2017, until April 15, 2018.

“This shall be a thrilling experience for us Filipinos, who are known for our genuine hospitality and for celebrating Christmas for the longest time. If you have friends, invite them to the Philippines and both of you might win prizes,” she said.

The Department is serious about the program as the major prizes that could be won by sponsors include a condo unit from Megaworld Corp., a brand-new Toyota Vios and a gift certificate from Duty Free Philippines worth P200,000.

Their foreign friends could win round-trip international flight tickets and tour packages to Palawan, Cebu and Davao.

Sponsors who are interested must register through the DOT’s official website, and look for the “Bring Home a Friend” portal, which will be made accessible very soon.

The DOT will also set up registration booths at selected international airports in the Philippines.

The sponsors would have better chances of winning if they bring in more foreign friends, as, the winner will be determined by the number of foreign friends they have brought with them.

The number of qualified entries will also rest on the points they earn corresponding to the guest’s country of origin: 2 points for Asia and Oceania/Australia; 3 points for those originally from Africa, Middle East, Europe and America.

The more foreign friends they invite, the more entries they can submit. The winners will be determined through an electronic raffle.

Assistant Secretary Frederick Alegre, spokesperson for the DOT, said they expect that Filipinos would be greatly interested and excited for the program because of the power of social media, unlike in 1994, the year the Philippines connected to the internet.

The program prioritizes to target expatriates or those having foreign citizenships and who are no longer based in the Philippines; foreigners with Filipino parents or descent, especially those in North America; and the so-called specialty travelers such as food enthusiasts, divers, surfers, mountaineers, or those who are into cultural-historical excursions.

Based on the 2015 report of the Department of Foreign Affairs, there are 9.1 million Filipinos overseas.

More than 3 million of them are in the United States, while more than 2 million are in the Middle East. Malaysia, Hong Kong, Japan, China, Italy and Australia are some other countries where there are large numbers of Filipinos.