Helping the Philippines rebuild confidence
The power of electronic media lies in its ability to imprint vivid images into people's memories and evoke strong emotions. Few will forget the twin towers collapsing, the destruction wreaked by the South Asian and Japanese tsunamis, and the tragic attempts of the Philippine police force to enter the bus full of Hong Kong hostages. The whole world saw the incompetence in those attempts and Hong Kong residents in particular were justified to feel outraged.
The Philippine government now faces the challenging task of proving to Hong Kong residents that it has implemented measures to ensure nothing like the Manila hostage killings can happen again. Understandably, the revelation that the government is already seeking a public relations firm to rebuild its image so soon after a Hong Kong's coroner's inquest upset many in Hong Kong, especially those who were involved in the hostage situation. Indeed, any form of promotional media aired on Hong Kong televisions by the Philippine government, asserting its security and attraction to tourists, as if those terrible events could be so easily forgotten, would be insensitive and offensive. The suggestion that there would be 'aggressive marketing and promotions' aimed at potential Hong Kong tourists sounds ominous.
Hopefully, once the government succeeds in finding an appropriate firm, it will be advised that aggressive marketing would be counterproductive. A more effective approach would be through education. Some simple facts would show up the illogical reasoning behind the Hong Kong government's black travel alert. Many more tourist destinations around the world are more dangerous for tourists either through crime or potential for natural disaster, but instead our government chooses to stigmatise the whole of the Philippines based on an isolated incident. The people of Hong Kong and the Philippines have a special relationship and our economy would not survive without the help of their provision of domestic helpers. It is imperative that our government helps - and not hinders - the Philippine government rebuild confidence