A TOP government official welcomed the PBA's move to bring in Asian imports for the Governors Cup, saying it will spur sports tourism in the country.
Tourism Undersecretary Domingo Ramon Enerio III praised the latest innovation of the PBA, saying it’s about time that the 40-year league opens its doors to the Asian market for expansion and further growth.
“Kilala naman na ang Pilipinas as a basketball powerhouse, pero there are opportunities from other countries, mabuti ito nagkakaroon ng exchange not just of talent but also of information regarding what our country has to offer and theirs (visiting players),” said Enerio, who is also the chief operating officer of the Philippine Tourism Board.
“Magandang pagkakataon na magkaroon tayo ng strong partner brand in the Philippines. Magkakaroon tayo ng pagkakataon to promote tourism within the country,” he added.
Enerio believes the presence of Asian imports will lure compatriots who are either working or studying in the country to the PBA games.
“Magandang format 'yun kasi imagine we have Koreans for example studying here, so if a team like I heard Kia which will parade a Korean import, makaka-attract sila ng Korean audience,” he said.
PBA chairman Patrick Gregorio, the man behind the Asian imports plan, is keeping his fingers crossed several Asian countries will be well represented in the season-ending conference kicking off on May 5.
“I heard may mga Iranian, Korean, Mongolian and Syrian prospects 'yung mga teams. Sana lang mayroon ding makuha na Chinese, Japanese at iba pa para mas malawak ang representation," said Gregorio.
Enerio said the Philippines should not only promote its world-class beaches and other popular tourist sights, but also pride itself in terms of sports tourism.
“Malaking bagay 'yung nakikita ang tourism partnering with the PBA and vice versa," said Enerio.
The Department of Tourism has inked a P5 million deal with the league to be one of its newest partners.