03 Nov2011

Okay, let’s do something a bit positive, shall we? Let’s give the new Secretary of Tourism a group view on how our tourism website compares with our neighbors and likely “competitors” for the much coveted and sought after tourist arrivals and revenue. The readership of marketmanila.com is probably an excellent sampling of mostly Filipinos at home and abroad who would likely have close contact with potential tourists to the country. It admittedly has less viewership from foreign readers, though are quite a few. But let’s take a look from our own pinoy perspective. Please try to be objective and provide a real, considered opinion, so that the DOT has a chance to improve their website, if necessary…

Before you vote on the new poll on the left, you may want to visit the following country tourism board websites to compare one against the other. I have included their ALEXA rankings to show you where they fall relative to each other’s official tourism websites. As you peruse the other sites, take an objective look at the ease of use, the speed, the quality of photos, the information, the overall experience, and whether that site would help you in your decision in whether or not to pursue a trip to that country. Here are the sites with links:

Hong Kong – Ranked 24,466th
Thailand – Ranked 25,044th
Singapore – Ranked 43,421st
Malaysia – Ranked 66,021st
Indonesia – Ranked 67,699th
Vietnam – Ranked 161,274th
Cambodia – Ranked 261,797th
Philippines – Ranked 319,471st

Thank you.



  1. loony says:

    i like the vibrancy of singapore’s and indonesia’s websites. ph’s looks and feels like a blogspot site (no offense). amateurish, walang kalatoy-latoy, walang dynamism and, i might add, walang love.

    Nov 3, 2011 | 12:19 pm


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  3. Marketman says:

    Plus, kulelat to boot. :)

    Nov 3, 2011 | 12:20 pm

  4. grace says:

    Ayahhhh I could have booked a trip somewhere else before the DOT website even loaded their homepage. And it looks so amateurish and so 20th century

    Nov 3, 2011 | 12:25 pm

  5. titabuds says:

    *hand over mouth* O, hindeh!

    Ok, seriously, I checked via ‘Stopwatch’ and loading time is more than 22 seconds. Once it loads, this is the first thing I read:

    ‘…If Marinduque is the heart of the Philippines, then Bellarocca Island Resort and Spa is its heartbeat. And it beats for eco-luxury.

    The ethereal paradise of Bellarocca, an ultra-luxurious resort, is sanctioned by God since it takes its role in environmental stewardship not jus…Read More’

    Let it out, MM, let it out. Hahaha.

    Ok, I’ll edit this to include a few suggestions for DOT: Once you open the website, you don’t know where to find anything! Promos, news items, feature articles are equally nondescript and the colors are so booooring, the fonts used are… oh, I could go on and on so never mind. :)

    Nov 3, 2011 | 12:52 pm

  6. jakespeed says:

    Great that you brought this up, MM. I actually was surprised that Malaysia had 24.6 million tourists last 2010, while the Philippines only had 3.52 million. I have been to Redang, KL, Malacca and Johor and the Philippines have much to offer than that. But the Malaysian tourism board produced a better website, outstanding commercials and ads in magazines,while the Philippine DOT produced a website that looked like it came from a free website account and managed by a seemingly fledgling web guy. Believe me, there are plenty of web designers in the Philippines that are very good and aren’t paid that much. Why don’t they get someone that are world-class?

    Another tidbit, I was watching the History Channel recently and what was shown was the Manila hostage crisis. After that documentary, 2 shows featuring Malaysian tourism was televised. Now, how ironic was that?

    Nov 3, 2011 | 12:56 pm

  7. lee says:

    The DOT website looks like a website from the 90’s. Remember Geocities hosted sites? The Department of Tourism can do more. They have the budget.
    There are lots of talented graphics and web designers in the country who can really create something amazing. I hope the DOT would try at least to have these talents bid for the right to redo their website.

    Nov 3, 2011 | 1:06 pm

  8. Gej says:

    My comment is based on the first page – the clincher page in any web-site, I suppose. I agree with the ranking with respect to Hong Kong. That one main picture is so spectacular and captures the electric excitement of the place that it makes me want to surf the site some more, and consider travelling. The Singapore web-site did not have an equally spectacular first page , but immediately gave the impression of a rich array of choices with the many sub-headings with pictures. Singapore takes my second vote.
    The top 5 – Hong Kong, Thailand Singapore Malaysia and Indonesia web-sites were clearly designed with the tourist in mind – they were selling their country as a tourist destination.
    The bottom three – sadly, including the Philippine – web-sites, in my opinion, seemed to be confused with their target audience, and with what they were selling. Was the site intended for tourists, or for their boss? Were they selling the Philippines (and other countries) as a tourist destination, or the Department of Tourism (or the other Dept/ministries of tourism) as supposedly doing its job? Sorry, I don’t think tourists care much about the Department or Ministry of Tourism’s latest programs and strategies, nor about tourism statistics.
    The Philippine site also seemed to load slower than the others.
    Clearly, reviewing and revising its web-site should be one of the DOT’s top and most urgent priorities (no cut and paste-hence stolen content, please, and no “test page” type remarks, but serious, creative, well considered and mindful efforts). In the meantime, I hope potential tourists visit more the blogs with much richer content, such as, of course, Market Manila , and a number of others, as well as other media, to find there is indeed good reason to visit the Philippines.

    Nov 3, 2011 | 1:12 pm

  9. present tense says:

    Just my two or three cents worth MM…when you speak of tourists, i believe you refer to tourist dollars as the effect and the webpage as the cause – in this case of tourism flows. Some things come to mind – how prepared are we as a deterent or at least a preventive measure against cases like the unfortunate HK tourists bus-hostaged at gunpoint. Where are the protective measures for tourists – let alone ordinary filipinos like us who go along unreported. Second, how measurably intact are the actors within the system able and prepared to deliver in measurable terms – and what are the costs to our gov’t. I refer to resort owners, policy makers, and quite measurably, at the baranggay level – where most will tend to benefit. Third how are we prepared to act on this – and what measurable result will this effort generate – till the next election – when policy changes take effect. I’ve got more to say, but being filipino, I am more content to take the jeeps and embrace these native, celebrative, and festive changes – than get into an airconed suv like a tick sucking the life out of a country i grew up in..my two cents lang po

    Nov 3, 2011 | 1:24 pm

  10. Zerho says:

    Honestly and objectively speaking the Philippine website was not made for tourists, even for Filipino tourists. The homepage is cluttered with insignifcant news and buttons, while the basic stuff like ‘where to go’, ‘things to do’ and ‘what to expect’ are missing or hard to find. The over-all look is boring, unimpressive and lacks any recall quality, guests viewing the site wouldn’t be enticed to visit/explore the country. And i agree with Loony, the site has no love, its as if the person who made it was a foreigner!
    And this is where my TAX money is going? I’d gladly design the site for free than have some sub-standard site which was made with the help of “private firms”.

    Nov 3, 2011 | 1:24 pm

  11. giancarlo says:

    I find my answers to the list of criterion to be different. I find the Thailand HK SG to be the best in terms of having good content. HK closely followed by SG and Malaysia in the visually appealing context. Extra props for SG’s link to Trip Advisor. The top 4 sites in my opinion do a good job of telling you what’s happening in their country. Thailand even has a flood update page.

    Nov 3, 2011 | 1:39 pm

  12. Marketman says:

    present tense, good points and valid too. I agree there are far greater issues than the website, but I consider it a proxy for the rest of the (or lack of) the package we offer… The lack of decent airports (in fact, the worst terminal in the world!), hostage issues, poor roads, very expensive hotels on average, unreliable taxis, etc. all require attention…

    Nov 3, 2011 | 1:42 pm

  13. Zerho says:

    Hi Marketman, i also searched philippine tourism on Google and found two DOT sponsored sites which would better represent tourism here in the Philippines but was made for US tourists. Its counterintuitive to see that this two sub-sites are actually a hundred times better than the main tourist page.

    Nov 3, 2011 | 1:57 pm

  14. marlon says:

    ours…is a late 90’s early 2000 frame based on html layout that fails to be touristy and doesn’t just gives a visual aesthetic appeal. In short…masakit sa mata!

    Nov 3, 2011 | 2:19 pm

  15. cwid says:

    Regarding the comment about the missed target audience for the DOT website, I suspect that the reason there is very little travel information is that the DOT website is intended to promote the DOT itself, not the country. This is the reason why there are two other websites that sell the country as a destination. Needless to say, having two duplicate sites is a waste of money.

    Nov 3, 2011 | 2:20 pm

  16. ami says:

    In fairness to Malaysia, those Malaysia Truly Asia ads are memorable. They’ve really invested in creating shows that market their country. Have you ever noticed that Discovery Channel and TLC seem to have Malaysia week every so often.

    Nov 3, 2011 | 2:29 pm

  17. millet says:

    “sanctioned by God”….huh? where did that come from?

    Nov 3, 2011 | 2:46 pm

  18. millet says:

    MM, every province and city of the Philippines has a website, but there is almost nothing aside from pictures and data which once may find from the National Statistics Office website anyway.

    Nov 3, 2011 | 3:06 pm

  19. clara says:

    What happened to the new or next boracay called sanvicente?
    It shouldn’t suffer the same fate as boracay or mindoro.
    Boracay used to have 50 meters of space from the shoreline to any establishment.
    But because of powerful people, they were able to buy lots infront of those lots
    thus boracay is full of structures within 20 meters from the shoreline.
    If you think boracay is nice, you should have been there 15-20 years ago
    when it was 10 times as beautiful.
    Now it is a crappy place resembling mindoro.
    Uneven structure, it is like a maze.
    sanvicente i think should be preserved with strict rules.
    i was searching at
    http:// www. sanvicente .com .ph
    and found pictures of a 4 kilometer white beach which they say is 4 times longer than the shoreline of boracay with the same quality of sand.

    Nov 3, 2011 | 3:19 pm

  20. AmericanLola says:

    Okay, I am an American living in the Philippines long term. Not a tourist, but I have friends who might look at these websites before deciding to vist. The DOT website is clearly for DOT related business. It even has a place at the top for selecting user profile, and ‘potential visitor’ is not among the choices. Let’s hope any potential visitor quickly moves of to either of the other sites given by Zerho, one for North America, the other for Canada. Both of these are easy to use and easy to read (no Thesaurus abuse).

    These sites were good until we got to the regional pages, then they got boring and unhelpful. It appears they link to pages on the DOT site… Pure government work. I looked at Northern Mindanao, since that is what I know best. It is a DOT page listing pictures categories I might want to look at: festival/conventions; river rafting; tour packages, etc. Doing a similar search for regional info on the Thailand website gives me city by city info, pictures, tourist attractions and links to hotels.
    I would give the Philippines a C+.

    Nov 3, 2011 | 3:24 pm

  21. Nacho says:

    It took forever to load the Phil website on the first try, so I went to Hong Kong again just to make sure my connection was not at fault. On the second try it took over a minute and a half to load most of the essential items on the welcome page. Compared to the others the Phil website is so much slower than the rest. Before even getting to the content they must fix the first impression. Definitely bottom of the bunch. And WOW! that first shot of Hong Kong is really great!

    Nov 3, 2011 | 3:25 pm

  22. Nina says:

    Very poor. Ang bagal magload, i would not wait for it to be done and search for other philippine tourism sites. What i like about hk and sg sites is that i am able to navigate and build my itinerary from the site. This is very useful.

    Incidentally, i am here in brunei and hindi umaabot dito ang tourism video, kung meron man, ang pilipinas. Ewan ko lang kung sa ibang bansa may napapanood silang tourism campaign ng piipinas. Pero kahit nga abu dabi, dubai and india merong napapalabas.

    Sana lahat ng government websites mag-improve and maging comprehensive sa information.

    Nov 3, 2011 | 3:45 pm

  23. titabuds says:

    @millet, I know! Hahaha. So ‘ethereal’. ;)

    Nov 3, 2011 | 3:48 pm

  24. tamale8888 says:

    I don’t even rely on the DOT website. You know, a few years back I Googled “Wow Philippines” and ended up in a site offering to hook people up to lovely Filipinas. ick!*:(

    Nov 3, 2011 | 5:22 pm

  25. joyce says:

    Agree with the points raised against the DOT web site plus I might add it does a disservice to the country as a tourist destination because the design doesn’t effectively convey why it would be fun to go on holiday in the Philippines. No dynamism in the photos and the design. And the menu bar categories! Really now? Looks more like a web site for a school than a tourism site.

    Nov 3, 2011 | 5:36 pm

  26. Sarah says:

    First of all, the DOT website was so slow in loading. That in itself is a turn off. And I agree with the commenter who said that it looks like a web page from the 90’s. I’ve seen blogs that look better than this! We have so many talented graphic designers in the Philippines, there’s really no excuse for this ugly website.

    Nov 3, 2011 | 5:52 pm

  27. Mirage says:

    Loading time alone —- PH site is the slowest, I finished typing this comment and it is still loading… :(

    Nov 3, 2011 | 6:14 pm

  28. Irene says:

    I checked the sites from the perspective of an incentive trip planner, which is part of my work, and found the HK and Singapore sites most helpful. I also appreciated that the Thai site had a section on the floods – whatever one says about the official response, at least it wasn’t hidden.

    Was puzzled that the Philippine site would talk about strategy, business/investment, etc before I noticed that it was also supposed to be a site for trade users. That’s a strange approach to content because the info I needed to plan a trip was buried 2 or 3 layers down, and I don’t know that a casual visitor would bother. In terms of look and feel, the Phil. photos and other design elements feel dated. It’s like seeing images on a 5-year old tv and on HD (for many of our ASEAN neighbors).

    In terms of presentation and layout, the Phil. site looked very amateurish, along the lines of Vietnam and Cambodia. Was it a case of not having any budget? Will echo earlier comments on Malaysia – they do an excellent job promoting themselves.

    On a separate but related subject, HK, Singapore Thailand, Malaysia produce tons of brochures that visitors pick up at the airport. We hardly do any and the few that we do are kept under lock and key. Whenever we have foreign visitors who decide to holiday in the country, I don’t use the site and rely on my resources.

    We can easily lead the world in hospitality and design, a pity that doesn’t come across in the DOT site.

    Nov 3, 2011 | 6:36 pm

  29. MP says:

    I like Singapore’s website best. Took seconds to load. Updated information. Makes one want to visit. Spectacular indeed. HK would be my next choice.

    I am embarassed that Vietnam and Cambodia rank higher than us. No offense meant to those countries but…what’s next, Sri lanka and Bangladesh over-taking us? Again, no offense meant…

    But then again, if we have the likes of that dopey character heading a unit at the DOT, can we really expect anything good to come out from that department?

    Nov 3, 2011 | 7:41 pm

  30. atbnorway says:

    I find the HK, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore too busy. Too much icing on the cake is a sign of hiding flaws. I love the uncluttered Scandinavian style.


    Nov 3, 2011 | 9:28 pm

  31. Jonathan Santos says:

    Hi MM, a little bit OT about websites…I think Market Manila website has a viral program. I have a PC and a laptop, the PC has an online antivirus program and the laptop is unprotected. I can’t access your site with the laptop because the virus program is redirecting this site a porn site. So I need to use my PC just to read your blogs. Pity that I use my laptop more often. :( Attacker URL is sweepstakesandcontestnow.com/nl.php?nnn=1 source address is

    Nov 4, 2011 | 12:10 am

  32. Aileen says:

    The DOT website should be helpful for both foreign visitors as well as the biggest segment of tourists – locals and balikbayans. I am a big believer that one should strive to be a tourist in his/her own country. I live in San Francisco, yet until two years ago, never visited Alcatraz, one of the most visited sites in SF. Because of this realization, I decided that when I visited the Philippines, I would go to places I have never had a chance to visit when I was living there. My family went to Bohol, Palawan, and took day trips out of Manila. As a balikbayan, I realized that hotels charged differently if you were, for example, a local vs a foreigner. I decided to spend my money in my homeland because even though the powers-that-be had a propensity for being corrupt, this does not mean that my country is not a beautiful country. I just did not realize that I would be charged much more for my hotel accomodations because I am a “foreigner”. If one was to visit any other place in the world, the hotel accomodations would cost the same, local or foreigner. It felt like I was being punished despite the fact that I decided to help, in my own small way, the economy of the Philippines. Will I come back? Of course I will because i love the Philippines. But believe you me, I am going to have a local make the reservations and secure the lower rate! This widespread policy should be changed. Nakaka-turn off talaga!

    Nov 4, 2011 | 3:03 am

  33. jakespeed says:

    @Aileen – I believe in Malaysia, the locals are also charged a lower rate in some hotels and resorts. In Singapore, locals and foreigners are charged the same.

    I don’t really know the exact reason why foreigners are charged differently in the Philippines and if there’s a law that makes this legal. Anyone, who can clarify on this?

    Nov 4, 2011 | 10:41 am

  34. Faust says:

    the DOT site needs to be revamped for a traveler

    Nov 4, 2011 | 1:49 pm

  35. MP says:

    Hi Aileen and jakespeed, if I remember correctly, Indonesia also charges lower rates to locals and expats that have kitas (residence visas) to encourage local tourism and of course, to boost tourism earnings. They reckon tourists have money to burn anyway… maybe this is also the reason why we do the same in the Phil? Whether it is legal or not is another question, although I think pricing/rate-establishment is not regulated in the Phil (not sure about this).

    Aileen, I ask my friends to book for me so I can avail of the lower rate and then present my driver’s license (which I renew regularly as we go home every year anyway) when asked for identification.

    Nov 4, 2011 | 4:29 pm

  36. jade186 says:

    Mainland China also has this policy of charging the locals less than foreigners – and the price differentials are really wide. There are also hotels that do not accept foreigners as guests – just locals – and this by law that the are not allowed to do so.

    Why doesn’t the DOT just retain the wowphilippines theme and logo? They’re just wasting time and resources trying to figure out a new one when the old formula works well – perhaps just needs a bit of polishing of some sort.

    Nov 4, 2011 | 6:44 pm

  37. Aileen says:

    Hi jakespeed and MP. Knowing now that other countries charge foreigners more than locals still doesn’t make me feel less ripped off, however, the DOT should take this cue and perhaps negotiate a special rate with local hotels. One idea would be if a hotel is booked through the DOT website, then one could avail of the local rates. I am sure this would drive more traffic into the DOT website. Just an idea:)

    Nov 5, 2011 | 12:44 am

  38. pinkytab says:

    The website caters more for people who want to do business in the Phil. not sightsee. Might as well advertise for mail order brides.

    Nov 5, 2011 | 2:26 am

  39. sur says:

    might we be giving too much credence to these national tourism sites as compelling ‘drawers’ to potential visits to a country? in my travels i cannot ever remember relying on any country’s website as they tend, as a rule, to be messy barrage of info. pages designed by committees and touting over-contrived promises of paradise. low believe-ability. which is a turn-off. [i regret just once finding out at the airport in santiago, chile that all US citizens would have to pay a hefty entry tax– but i wasnt about to board another ft back to BsAs accross a bumpy bumbpy ride over the andes…]

    thumbs down on all the sites- good exhibits all that more is not necessarily more. but i would vote for cambodia’s as the least headache-inducing site.


    Nov 5, 2011 | 5:14 am

  40. present tense says:

    MM, you being a finance man, maybe you can tell us the fair market value of the various options on the table…i prefer to consider your perceived references in real terms – meaning table charges and ‘under the table charges” Subjective or not – i believe this is still free speech and whose circumstances are protected by law…Questions on : how long and how much to accomplish this and what’s the cost benefit ? Who are the actors and what role will they play ? Who will benefit and what is the cost of benefit ? What are the stages involved and how long do they play out before the next policy change – or the next election. Sir I feel i have an understanding feeling for issues comprehensive enough for readership value but when u scratch my back, then i scratch yours. We obviously are aware of the actors…We are aware of the mistakes but not the extent…

    Nov 5, 2011 | 9:39 am

  41. laughinghyenna says:

    I think the department has to, once and for all, decide what is the objective of the site. Is it to sell the country to tourists and investors, or is it to grandstand their “achievements” or whatever they want to call it.

    Nov 6, 2011 | 3:57 pm

  42. MP says:

    Aileen, your suggestion makes perfect sense. One can only hope that our DOT officers pay heed to suggestions from citizens whose only desire is to boost local toursim and encourage the rest of the world to realize what we have to offer.

    Sur, I doubt people decide to visit a country based on what they read/see on official websites. However, when I make my travel plans, I definitely check out a country’s official tourism website to determine what places to check out. Most of the time, I already have an indicative travel plan (based on what I know/heard about the place) and then I add places of interest to my itinerary based on info from the website.

    Nov 6, 2011 | 4:44 pm

  43. vermouth says:

    The thing is, even though the Philippine website is decidedly inferior to HK’s, Thailand’s or Malaysia’s, these three aren’t even what I’d call really good! I agree with atbnorway that uncluttered is best. Consider:


    I feel like the jump from being “kulelat” to being the best should be straightforward enough. I do not doubt that there are a lot of excellent Filipino web designers. What I would suggest is tap those UP Fine Arts or UST-CFAD (or really, any university) students to design for a tourism website as a class project. You’d get lots of good ideas, and for free!

    We used to do tourism ads well too. I love these: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TsBUz6qu_Bo

    As for tourism itself and what we can do to improve it, I feel deserves a whole new blog post. :)

    Nov 13, 2011 | 4:33 am

  44. Fate says:

    I am just wondering if the Department of Tourism Team had actually worked in the tourism industry before like as travel agents, hotel sales and marketing managers or tour guides… because it seems like the people who created this website hates traveling and love to stay in the office thus the website has more information on statistics rather than where to find the best diving spot or best halo-halo in the country!

    Honestly if I have friends visiting our country I send them links of my favorite blogs for information on where to eat, sleep, drink and have incredible experiences in the Philippines.

    The saddest part is not just the DOT website. Truth is a lot of Travel Companies do not feature Philippines in their South East Asia brochure. I have only seen Palawan but that’s because there’s a luxury resort there.

    I view DOT as our ultimate Sales and Marketing team to promote our country. It’s about time they hire qualified Sales people and not just marketing people…

    Nov 15, 2011 | 1:48 am


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