Mina Gabor: Philippine Small and Medium Business Development Foundation (PHILSMED), President International School of Sustainable Tourism (ISST), President

Manila Bulletin, March 6, 2011 | Go to article overview

Mina Gabor: Philippine Small and Medium Business Development Foundation (PHILSMED), President International School of Sustainable Tourism (ISST), President


MANILA, Philippines - Guillermina "Mina" Tapia Gabor remains best known as Secretary of Tourism from 1996 to 1998, during which she successfully marketed the Philippines as a destination. She is known as well to be the founder of the Center for International Trade Expositions, Inc. (CITEM), the export promotion agency of the Department of Trade and Industry. At the moment, she sits as the Chairwoman of the Ecotourism Society of the Philippines, acts as a consultant to the World Tourism Organization (WTO) based in Madrid, and is one of the few lifetime members of the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA). She continues with her advocacy work as founder and president of the Philippine Small and Medium Business Development Foundation (PHILSMED). And her latest baby comes in the form of a trainors training school called the International School of Sustainable Tourism (ISST).Mina Gabor started out an entrepreneur, served the government for 18 years, and has since been back with the private sector, as well as actively involved in various civic and business organizations. She took up courses leading to Masters in Business Administration from the University of the Philippines and a PhD in Entreprenology from the International University of Entreprenology in Hawaii. She is a recipient of various prestigious awards and a woman of so many hats, one can only wonder what it's like to be possessed with so much passion and talent. In this interview, Business Agenda gets into the mind of one of the most patriotic Filipinas around.BA : First, and rather predictably, what do you want to say about the Pilipinas Kay Ganda fiasco?MG: Based on their explanation, you have to give them the benefit of the doubt. I'd like to think there's more to what they presented. It's better to bury it, as everybody is now working towards better research and a really well thought out brand. What they had was a tagline, not the brand. There should be consultation with concerned groups before announcing-And there's such a thing as x-factor, and it just didn't have it. Taglines have to have coherence with your goals. What do you really want people to think of our place? Korea, for example, has the best branding today. "Korea, Sparkling"-the goal is simple: change the image of their people, who are perceived to be brusko, fresh, unfriendly-When I was DOT Secretary, we had "Fiesta Islands," a tagline I inherited from Tony Gonzales. We changed it to "The Best of the Islands," which we broke down to GAdventure Islands, Musical Islands, Golf Islands, Gourmet Islands and Sports Islands.BA: How would you assess the tourism industry at present?MG: It is too early for me to comment because it's a new administration and the programs are still being put in place and started. But with sustainable tourism trend worldwide-I just came from a PATA Adventure Mart in Nepal, and everything is community-based and nature-based, including activities that involve nature. We must position ourselves very fast, because everyone wants to do the same.There is a six million tourist arrival projection by the end of P-Noy's term, and I think that's a reasonable target. However the problem of enough accommodations and air seats have to be tackled simultaneously.BA: Why do you think Thailand and Malaysia keep beating us in the tourism game?MG: First, they have the advantage of cross border arrivals-that's a big factor. Second, it has always been said that it's the bigger allocation of marketing and promo funds. I know in the case of Malaysia that they've put together a strategy up to the countryside level; the governments in the area support the private sector. Third, the seamless travel. And fourth, training, which brings me to where I am today.BA: So is this what you're busiest with among your many positions and affiliations?MG: Yes, it's my latest project, the trainors training institute. Together with Former Secretary Cora De Leon, Dr. Dave Cartes of Florida State University/IESES Department, PATA, Jojo Bernardo of APO Japan, Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA), and Miguel Guioguio, I am launching the International School of Sustainable Tourism (ISST) this March. …

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