PM Trudeau looks forward to launch of BHAF in Canada

In Photo: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was pleased with the Department of Tourism’s plan to visit Ottawa this month, to launch its Bring Home a Friend program. Canada is home to over 800,000 people of Filipino descent. In photo, Trudeau chats briefly with Tourism Secretary Wanda Corazon T. Teo during last Sunday’s gala dinner for world leaders and government officials participating in the Asean meetings.


CANADIAN Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was reportedly pleased that the Department of Tourism (DOT) would be launching its Bring Home a Friend (BHAF) program in Ottawa this month.

In an interview with the BusinessMirror, Tourism Secretary Wanda Corazon T. Teo said she briefly met with Trudeau during last Sunday’s  gala dinner for world leaders and officials attending the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit and side meetings.

“He was happy when I told him that we were going to Ottawa to launch the BHAF program. ‘That’s good,’ he said, and, of course mentioned that Canada is home to a lot of Filipinos,” Teo said. “Canada is an emerging market for us, thus, we would like to give it special attention in our tourism campaigns,” she stressed.

According to the latest census of the Canadian government, over 800,000 Canadians of Filipino descent live in urbanized areas of the country. In Ottawa alone, Canada’s capital, there are over 10,000 Filipinos, as per a 2011 census.

The BHAF program is the DOT’s latest incentive program to increase tourist arrivals in the Philippines by making Filipinos here and abroad “tourism ambassadors.” By getting Filipinos to encourage their friends abroad or in their host countries to visit the Philippines, they and their friends have the chance to win prizes.

This developed as the agency successfully launched the BHAF in London recently, during the World Travel Market (WTM), a global gathering of tourism professionals and government tourism representatives.

“The message that we are trying to send should be clear. Philippine tourism, which has posted double-digit growth that is three times more than the global average, is experiencing a breakthrough phase,” Tourism Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs Frederick M. Alegre said in a news statement.

He held a news briefing with members of British media and travel trade representatives at the Philippine booth, where he asked for their support to further promote the country, especially after the accolades it’s received from various international trade and travel publications like Conde Naste group.

The DOT official noted the United Kingdom is the top source market in Europe for tourists in the Philippines, generating 173,299 visitor arrivals in 2016, up 12 percent from the previous year. Aside from the United Kingdom, other major markets of the Philippines are South Korea, the United States, China, Japan and Taiwan.

At the WTM held from  November  6 to 8, private-sector delegates, including Philippine travel and tour operators, along with representatives of Philippine Airlines, met their counterparts from the UK and Europe in a series of business-to-business meetings.

Meanwhile, Teo’s trip to Ottawa will take place from November 19 to 23, where she will meet not only travel agencies and the Filipino community to talk to them about BHAF but government of officials and members of the parliament of Canada, as well. She said Trudeau didn’t say if he would attend those meetings, but added it was evident that Filipinos have a special place in the young prime minister’s heart.

Trudeau made waves again during his recent trip to the Philippines by visiting a Canadian-funded health center in Tondo, then going to a branch of Jollibee, the country’s largest fast-food chain.  It was the second visit of Trudeau to the Philippines, having been in Manila during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders’ summit in 2015, where he and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto were dubbed #ApecHotties by netizens.

Teo said she was also fortunate to have personally met US President Donald J. Trump and Brunei Darussalam Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah during the Asean gala dinner.

Image Credits: Photo courtesy D.O.T.

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