Director Tropicales took over the SF post from Purificacion Suanding Molintas, who was tourism director for the last four years. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Hotel & Restaurant Management from the University of Santo Tomas (UST), where she was also the recipient of the Quezon Leadership Award.
Upon her completion of her Master’s in Business Administration from the UST Graduate School where she graduated Cum Laude, Director Tropicales joined The Discovery Leisure Company, Inc. as part of the pre-opening team for the Misibis Bay Resort and Hotel Venezia in Bicol. She also worked with the team of Discovery Suites in Manila and Discovery Shores Boracay.
In addition to being in the sales and marketing industry for more than a decade, the UST alumna also had a brief stint in the academe as a part-time teacher at the Institute of Tourism and Hotel Management of Far Eastern University (FEU).
It was in 2014 when Director Tropicales joined the Philippine Department of Tourism where she was assigned to the Route Development Division of the Market Development Group. A year earlier, she had passed the Competency Based Assessment Program of the PDOT and joined the pool of Tourism Attachés. She handled the hosting of the Routes Asia 2016 in Manila, considered the biggest aviation event in Asia.
As the new tourism director, Tropicales told the Asian Journal that the PDOT team in San Francisco will engage in new activities and initiatives to bring more Americans, Canadians and Filipino Americans to the Philippines and experience more fun in the country. As such, the Director and her team have identified priority states, cities and market segments that will help them achieve this goal.
Director Tropicales also revealed that their office will help strengthen the business to consumer (B2C) activities of the tourism department and the Fil-Am community.
“The PDOTSF will organize events which will help connect the Fil-Am community to various tourism stakeholders in the Philippines,” she explained. “Also, we want to tap individuals or groups in the community who are interested in tourism investment in the Philippines. Our attached agency, the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority, has packages and incentives programs which creare business opportunities.”
Additionally, the PDOTSF wants to focus on the youth market, including students, third- and fourth-generation Fil-Ams and young professionals.
“We want to offer this market segment Philippine products focused on education tourism, culinary tourism and community immersion activities. Our office will reach this market through digital campaigns, social media platforms, and exciting and engaging apps,” she divulged, while adding that as certified divers, she and her tourism department colleague, Zeny Pallugna, will promote the Philippines as a top dive, travel and adventure destination in Asia.
As the Philippines, due to advancements in technology and mapping, has been revealed to actually have 7,641 islands, Director Tropicales said that the country has many hot spots, with many Philippine destinations making the top lists around the world.
“We are happy to share with you that Travel+Leisure’s 2018 top 15 best islands in the world includes Palawan and Cebu. Condé Nast Traveler readers ranked the 30 best islands in the world outside the US [via the magazine’s 2018 Readers’ Choice Awards] and guess which are the top three islands – Siargao, Boracay and Palawan,” Tropicales said. “My personal favorite, Dumaguete, is a great destination for diving, snorkeling, playing golf and having a culinary experience.”
The newly-appointed SF Tourism Director emphasized that promoting the Philippines is a cooperative effort between the Department of Tourism and the Fil-Am community.
“We are partners and ambassadors in promoting Philippine tourism. We cannot do this alone. We need their support in encouraging their children, relatives and American friends to have a firsthand experience of what the Philippines has to offer,” she said “Every relative or friend that you bring to the Philippines creates a job to a Filipino or two.”
“In line with the Spark-Connect-Empower movement of the Philippine Consulate General, let us work together in spreading the warm Filipino hospitality here in the U.S. I also want to take the opportunity to invite our kababayans and friends to join this year’s Very Important Pinoy (VIP) Tour and Filgrimate Tour taking place in July 2019. This effort, led by the Department of Foreign Affairs, offers an exciting itinerary crafted and customized for this special group,” Director Tropicales added. The website for the VIP and Filgrimate Tours is http://viptourphilippines.com.
Prior to being named PDOTSF Tourism Director, Tropicales participated in various aviation and trade events in China, Singapore, South Korea, Australia, Spain and South Africa, and also presented her paper, “Air Route Development in the Philippines: Prospects for Improving the Tourism Industry,” at the 15th APacCHRIE Conference 2017 in Bali, Indonesia. She has been instrumental in strengthening and growing the direct air connections of the Philippines from tourist source markets of the country.
As this is her first overseas posting, Director Tropicales is looking forward to seeing what the Bay Area has to offer.
“As part of the Route Development Team in the Manila office, I got the chance to go to different continents and countries to promote the international airports of the Philippines, but I have never been to the US. That is why I am looking forward to discover more of what San Francisco has to offer in terms of opportunities for tourism development and investment for the Philippines,” she said. “And, of course, on a personal note, my palate wants to explore the food scene of Frisco.”