The Mechanization of Tourism Industry
And the Relevance of Bloggers or e-Journalists
By Apolinario Villalobos
Practically, almost every endeavor in this world has got to do with “tourism”…as anything that can elicit visits can be called a “touristic result”. A city with plenty of trusted clinics and medical practitioners can become a destination for “medical tourism” program. A village that became popular because of a Marian (Virgin Mary) appearance becomes flooded with pilgrims, and that is “religious tourism”. The situation of a place as regards security and hygiene affects tourism. And, the likeability of a place in general, revolves around tourism.
Tourism is about sports, nature, wildlife, food, culture, education, as well as, various segments of travel industry such as air, water and land. The constantly varying cost of fuel that affects the various modes of travel at the end, affects tourism…. even the food and the hotel accommodation.
The travel craze has brought about the BLOGGING PHENOMENON. Suddenly, anybody who has a facebook and maintains blog sites in the internet has become a blogger. Even a mug of coffee with a floral design formed by squirted cream becomes a subject for the blog posted on the facebook. Visually recorded travels, foodie trips and drinking sprees have become curious subjects and unwittingly become honest references of future travelers who would like to retrace the steps on the trails taken by the bloggers.
The effect of the e- journalists on the tourism industry is impressively tremendous. It has made travel easy and direct, booting the government tourism offices out of the picture and transaction, as bookings are directly made with travel and tour agencies. And, many travelers today are using direction applications in smart phones. The phenomenon has practically relegated government tourism offices on the sideline for ”coordination” purposes which actually, are generally viewed as no longer necessary….making them inutile. Even for international conventions, there are professional seminar and convention handling agencies. As regards the Travel Tax, it can be handled by a representative of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) at all points of entries and exits of the country.
I have personally observed that the quality control of services of touristic facilities that is supposed to be handled by the local tourism offices is not carried out properly. Facilities found in small cities and towns are left on their own to cater to their clients, as they show their best smile. While in Manila, Cebu and Davao, touristic establishments are stuck with supposedly sticker of guarantee indicated by the number of stars, the rest around the country have none. If the small touristic establishments do not “come up” to the standards indicated by stars, then, such system is useless as they are just good for the big hotels in equally big cities. THERE ARE PLENTY OF AFFORDABLE AND CLEAN TOURISTIC ESTABLISHMENTS IN FAR-FLUNG TOWNS WHERE “TOURIST ATTRACTIONS” ARE FOUND, AS WELL AS SMALL CITIES WITH PROVINCIAL SETTING THAT SERVE AS “JUMP OFF POINTS”, INSTEAD OF BIG HOTELS, MALLS AND SKYCRAPERS.
It has been found out that real tourists, the seasoned ones who comprise the biggest chunk of the statistics on this industry, do not give a damn on the number of stars stuck on the door of a hotel and restaurants….they are after the cheap hotel rates, clean rooms and safe foods. They rely more on the suggestions and recommendations of their agents and personal experience that make them “repeat customers”, and, “WORD OF MOUTH” OR STORIES OF FRIENDS. These “stars” may be good for the glossy pages of magazines not read by the aforementioned travelers who “KNOW” what they want as seasoned travelers.
Here are important points to ponder on:
- If a tourist has lost a baggage at the airport, the airline acts on it.
- If the bag of a tourist has been snatched while he is shopping, he goes to the police.
- If a tourist becomes sick in a hotel, he is brought to the hospital.
- If a prospective tourist wants to visit a place, he consults the internet for blogs.
- If a tourist destination is made accessible by road, the budget either comes from the LGU or the congressman.
- Photos and write ups on festivals, activities and foods in the internet and made as references of tourists are uploads of bloggers. (Most LGU tourism offices collect photos via contests among the visual bloggers.)
The “tourism office” is not in any of the situations mentioned above. On the other hand, the information needs of the tourist can be handled by the Information Office of the LGU- from the province and city or town, down to the barangay level to MAXIMIZE their function while maintaining their being an INFORMATION OFFICE staffed with KNOWLEDGEABLE researchers. The tourism-related functions have become purely coordinative and informative, hence, do not need any managerial skill. In other words, ANYBODY WHO HAS A KNOWLEDGE OF ANY TOURIST SPOT OR DESTINATION OR ACTIVITY OR WHATCHAMALLIT, CAN BE A “TOURIST GUIDE”….even the guys who sweep the streets can be such and they may prove even more effective than those sitting out their time in their aircon offices chatting with fb friends.
Information about local destinations may have the chance to land on the pages of international magazines and the internet. HOWEVER, THEY ARE INNATELY AND VERY MUCH AVAILABLE IN THE MINDS OF THE RESIDENTS OR LOCALS…MAKING THE HIRING OF “CONSULTANTS” FOR THEIR PROMOTION ALSO, NOT NECESSARY. For budget proposals, the Finance guys of any LGU can do it. For the description of tourist spots or activities, the most appropriate is the Information Office, again, to maximize their function.
My suggestion ONLY is, dissolve the Department of Tourism and the rest of the government tourism offices and replace them with INFORMATION KIOSKS TO BE SITUATED AT STRATEGIC AREAS SUCH AS AIRPORTS (INTERNATIONAL AND DOMESTIC), PIERS, MALLS, PROVINCIAL CAPITOLS, CITY/MUNICIPA/BARANGAY HALLS. THESE KIOSKS SHOULD BE EQUIPPED WITH COMPUTERS THAT CONTAIN TRAVEL AND TOUR INFORMATION ABOUT THE PHILIPPINES, ESPCIALLY, THE PLACES WHERE THE KIOSKS ARE LOCATED, AND WHICH LOCAL AND FOREIGN TRAVELERS CAN EASILY ACCESS. THE UPLOADED INFORMATION SHOULD BE BACKED UP BY PRINTED OR HARD COPIES IN CASE OF POWER BREAKDOWN, AND KEPT IN THE FILING CABINET OF THE INFORMATION OFFICE WITH A REPRESENTATIVE POSTED AT EVERY KIOSK. AS FOR TOUR GUIDES, “JOB ORDER” EMPLOYESS WITH MULTI-FUNCTIONS CAN BE UTILIZED.
FINALLY, THIS IS WHAT I WOULD LIKE TO CALL AS THE “MECHANIZATION” OF THE TOURISM INDUSTRY.