Philippines tourism campaign bombs
Manila - The Philippines said on Monday it had killed off a controversial new tourism campaign after President Benigno Aquino added his voice to widespread criticism of the project.
The tourism ministry launched "Pilipinas Kay Ganda" (Philippines What a Beauty) last week but it immediately came under fire.
Critics alleged it plagiarised Poland's tourism logo and pointed out that the domain name, www.beautifulpilipinas.com, was just one letter different from a pornographic website.
"The Department of Tourism confirmed that it is shelving the 'Pilipinas Kay Ganda' concept. Majority of the stakeholders and general public do not support this concept. The message has been received," it said in a statement.
The ministry said it had made an error in rushing the concept to the market.
"We were impatient and wanted to jumpstart our programme. That was a mistake," the statement said.
The ministry had already taken down the website last week but denied allegations it made an illegal copy of the Polish campaign.
Something more fitting
Aquino signalled at the weekend that the campaign would be aborted when he said there had been far too much criticism of it.
"The (tourism) stakeholders don't sound content. So probably, we need to do more than just fine-tune it. We should look for something more fitting," he told reporters.
The ministry said in its statement it would continue its search for an acceptable brand and the public would be asked to pitch in.
Suggestions would be short-listed for market testing and focus-group discussions to select the final brand, it added.
The Philippines has been struggling to shake off its image as a chaotic and unsafe destination after eight Hong Kong tourists were killed in a botched police rescue of a bus taken hostage by an ex-policeman in Manila in August.
Adding to the image problems, the United States Australia, Canada, Britain, France and New Zealand warned its citizens this month of an alleged impending terrorist attack in the Philippines.
The Philippines protested the travel advisories, but the six countries have ignored Aquino's calls to withdraw them.