Asia-Pacific

Philippines pulls new tourism website in porn mix-up

Tourists ride on a horse-driven carriage in Intramuros in downtown Manila, 18 September 2010
Image caption The Philippines is trying to attract more tourists this year

The Philippines has abandoned a new online tourism campaign, less than two days after it was triumphantly launched.

The new website address was found to be very similar to that of a porn site, and critics have panned its new slogan for being unintelligible to foreigners.

This was the first major rebranding of the country's tourism industry in eight years.

But the government now says it might revert to the old brand.

The new brightly coloured logo features the sun, the sea, a coconut tree and a cute little animal called the tarsier, which is native to the Philippines.

So what is not to like?

Muddled message

A lot, according to many of those who have seen it.

For a start, the slogan is in Tagalog, not English.

Pilipinas Kay Ganda means Beautiful Philippines - but critics say it does not mean very much at all to potential visitors.

Then there is the beautifulpilipinas website that goes with the new campaign.

Several bloggers realised that the web address had just one letter different from that of a porn site.

The tourism ministry has now taken down the site and is discussing the future of the slogan.

It urgently needs to get the message right if it is to reach its target of doubling tourist numbers by 2013.

Perhaps more importantly, it needs to promote the Philippines as a safe holiday destination.

Hotels and tour agents here are still suffering in the wake of the botched handling of a hostage crisis in August, which left eight Hong Kong tourists dead.

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