MANILA - It would not be appropriate to promote Philippines using the 'It's More Fun' tagline due to the ongoing siege in the city of Marawi, the Department of Tourism (DOT) said on Tuesday.
“At this moment that are soldiers are getting killed… there’s martial law in Mindanao and in Marawi and we will mention fun? I mean guys, come on, have a heart,” Tourism Assistant Secretary Frederick Alegre said in a press briefing.
This comes as the new tourism campaign “Experience the Philippines” drew criticism for its glaring similarities with a 2014 South Africa tourism ad.
DOT previously used "It's More Fun in the Philippines" as its campaign slogan but was replaced at the start of the year with "When you're with Filipinos, you're with family."
Alegre said they wanted to show a “call of action” with its newest campaign material which features blind Japanese retiree M. Uchimura, who explored some of the country's best-known tourist spots in the north.
“We’re very sensitive that our troops are getting killed. We’re very sensitive that people are getting displaced, that Marawi, such a beautiful place [and] this is happening now,” he said.
Hundreds have died while thousands already fled Marawi City as clashes between government troops and ISIS-linked Maute terrorists entered its third week.
The clashes have prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to place Mindanao under military rule. Some countries have also issued travel advisories, warning their citizens not to go to the southern Philippine island.
Alegre said given the current situation in Marawi, it would be "very hard" to promote Mindanao and that it is the “perfect” time to promote northern Philippines.
“Fun, not quite appropriate at this moment but in an area where it is safe, definitely there is an experience that you can get,” he said.
“I mean really it’s still more fun in the Philippines but we wanted to show a call to action,” he added.