AS the country’s no. 1 undisputed sports entertainment for a long time now, the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) is being tapped no less by the Department of Tourism as one of its main vehicles in promoting the country through its ‘Visit The Philippines Year 2015’ initiative.
League chairman Patrick Gregorio bared this out on Friday following his recent meeting with Tourism undersecretary Domingo ‘Chiko’ Enerio.
Under the proposed plan, Gregorio explained that the DOT will use Asia’s pioneering pro league as oone of the agency’s main tourist attractions, given its renewed popularity not just in the country but even abroad.
“’In the Visit The Philippines’ campaign of the Department of Tourism, online will play a big role in promoting the PBA and the Philippines as a sports tourism destination,” Gregorio said.
The amiable chairman said proof of the league’s popularity outside of the country came when PBA officials interacted with Overseas Filipino Workers’ (OFWs) during the annual board meeting in Seoul, South Korea last month.
“Paano ko na realize yun (growing popularity of the PBA), because when the board entered the Bar of Novotel (in Seoul), talagang they (OFWs) acknowledged everybody,” recalled Gregorio, who also serves as Talk ‘N Text’s board of governor.
“Of course, una nilang nakilala si coach (Ginebra alternate board member) Alfrancis (Chua), then susunud nilang nakilala si coach Ryan (Gregorio), pero pati yung mga governors at si (commissioner) Chito (Salud). Eh paano nilang makikilala yun, wala namang TV? Ang sabi ng mga fans, dahil sa online.”
However, Gregorio explained the pro league’s biggest contribution in sports tourism could eventually come from the Asian reinforcements, which the PBA intends to implement in the season-ending Governors Cup.
“Tinahi-tahi lang namin yun, because OFWs watch from online. But with the PBA, nakita na nila (Tourism officials) that one way to promote the country is through the PBA, and I think connected din iyan sa Asian reinforcements ng liga,” noted Gregorio.
The chairman added that should teams eventually bring in Koreans as imports, he wouldn’t be surprised if Korean fans will start showing up in the games.
“They say there are more than 500,000 Koreans in the Philippines. Maglagay ka ng isang Koreano sa PBA, eh di may rason na sila manuod ng PBA, then pag nanuod na sila ng PBA, di nandiyan na si Samsung, nandiyan na si LG, magi-sponsor na iyan, tapos may Kia pa,” he added.