Marketing Manila

More than more than the usual -
MANILA needs a marketing campaign. I have so many friends from Manila, but hardly anyone ever goes there. More people have been to Cebu,..."
So begins the latest column from Philippine "society fixture" Tim Yap on The Philippine Daily Inquirer.

He's got a point. Hardly anybody outside of the Philippines ever thinks of Manila as a travel destination. The Philippine government needs to do a better job of marketing the country to the international travel set. The question is, what kind of spin should the marketing campaign put on Manila?

It's not idyllic. It's not exotic. It's not squeaky clean or hyper-efficient. It's not "Oriental" enough to fire up foreigners' imaginations about that far-off place called "Asia". People don't walk around in strange costumes (well, most people don't). There are no ancient temples or ruins from lost civilizations.

Although... It has fabulous shopping and fabulous nightlife. All the signs are in English. It's easy to get to. It's quite Westernized, but that isn't a selling point at all, because why would a Westerner travel to Asia to see a third-world clone of his own backyard?

But Manila (well, METRO Manila) has its plus points. Lots of it. I know. I grew up there. And visited two years ago (after a 10-year absence) and had a blast.

Trouble is, I don't know how to translate my thoughts into an effective, world-class tourism campaign. Maybe that's why I'm not in advertising...