When a country is prepping to launch a new tourism campaign, it doesn't help when bandits kidnap visiting birdwatchers.
But the Philippines' new tourism drive -- slogan: "It's More Fun in the Philippines!" -- is proceeding despite the recent abduction of two Europeans eyeing rare birds in the country's southern islands.
Tourism secretary Ramon Jimenez tells Manila's GMA News that the kidnappings have yet to hurt arrival figures. "I've been saying all along that when our positive image is stronger than our negative one, the momentum will hold," Jimenez told the outlet.
He's hoping to build that momentum with the new campaign, which just rolled out this snazzy Web site.
It's difficult to gauge how much bad publicity from semi-frequent kidnappings in the Philippines drags down that momentum. The country has incredible beaches and, unlike Thailand, a large population of English speakers. Still, Thailand's tourism figures are roughly five times that of the Philippines.
Realistically, a tourist is highly unlikely to face what the abducted birdwatchers are facing -- abduction in a province rife with Islamic insurgents -- because they seldom venture to the most dangerous provinces. A tourist in the Philippines doesn't have to go to resitve Mindinao any more than a tourist in America has to visit the most violent slums of St. Louis.
I suppose it also doesn't help when journalists go around publishing headlines like "Philippines kidnapping: European birdwatchers possibly sold to Islamic militants."