The Sad Plight of the Philippine Tourism Industry

The Sad Plight of the Philippine Tourism Industry

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

I find it unnecessary to hire Consultants who would come up with “tourism plan” for LGU units that are already with potential tourist destinations. Why the need for a Consultant when all that the tourists need are ONLY clean accommodation facilities, exotic foods and honest tricycle or taxi drivers? And, worse, with the Consultant coming yet, from outside the community being promoted!

 

Is it difficult for a local government to require stallholders in the public market to maintain cleanliness?…for restaurant owners to have clean restrooms, tidy halls, and staff clothed in clean uniform and with a ready smile? Or, is it difficult for a local government to call on the drivers of public conveyances to be courteous and be honest?…why the need for a Consultant to dictate what to do when all the things that should be done are supposed to be just dictated by COMMON SENSE?

 

Puerto Galera in Mindoro did not become famous because of Consultants, and so are Boracay, the scuba diving sites around the country, the mountains, the caves and the festivals. PHILIPPINE AIRLINES DID A LOT IN PROMOTING THEM AS PART OF ITS AIR TRAVEL EDUCATION PROGRAM. The Department of Tourism just “researched” on them so that they can have something to print in their brochures that they displayed in their “field” offices around the country and some cities around the world. They literally picked up easily the “opportunities” of already famous tourist attractions of the country.

 

CONSULTANTS WERE NEVER HIRED BY LOCAL GOVERNMENTS TO MAKE WHAT THEY HAVE AS TOURIST ATTRACTIONS BECOME FAMOUS. UNFORTUNATELY, THE LACK OF CONCERN FROM THE GOVERNMENT AGENCIES TO PRESERVE THEIR PRISTINE BEAUTY AND THE GREED FOR MONEY OF INVESTORS, PRACTICALLY, SPOILED THEM….AND, BORACAY  IS THE BIG PROOF!

 

The word-of-mouth system of promotion also did a lot…made by satisfied travelers who told their friends when they went back to their countries. THERE WAS NO PLAN. What is worse that is happening today is the idiotization of festivals of different cities and towns that differ only in outlandish costumes but with street dancers moving to the same rhythm and beat copied from the Ati-atihan of Ibajay in Aklan and later, Kalibo, as well as the Binirayan of Antique. In fairness to some of them,  however, there are many towns who are steadfast in coming up with costumes symbolic of their festival or celebration. But generally, the general impression about the festivals is “…if you have seen one, you have seen them all…” WHICH IS NOT GOOD AND SHOULD SERVE AS A STRONG SIGNAL TO THE DEPARTMENT OF TOURISM TO DO SOMETHING.

 

The Philippines is lagging behind the rest of the traditional destinations in Southeast Asia such as Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore with even those that had a late start-up like Myanmar, Vietnam and Cambodia catching up. It should be noted that even Singapore is making to full use the “colors” of its rich multi-faceted culture that include street foods and market scenes. On the other hand, the rest of the highly-attractive nations are also doing the same with the same pride. Meanwhile, the Philippine tourism guys think that the country MUST hold an international pageant to make her popular!

 

The country should be thankful to Duterte whose feisty and rhetorical statements have earned added curiosity of the world and the respect of many nations….but to the guys who are salaried to work for such purpose?…WELL…!#$@^&%$!

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The Problem with Some Philippine Government Agencies and the People Behind Them

The Problem With Some Philippine Government Agencies

and the People Behind Them

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

The Philippines can be perceived as taking steps forward, though with difficulty, and there are indications that some of the agencies don’t just seem to be effectively doing their job. For one thing, guys behind these agencies always blame the lack of budget when in fact, what they lack is the skill in being resourceful and the drive….but, most especially, the “intelligence” and common sense.

 

On the social service which before was encompassing to include sports and the welfare of the human sector, today, it has been decentralized with the functions distributed among local governments and newly-created “Commissions” or “Offices”. So we find today “offices” for senior citizens, disaster management and relief distribution, rehabilitation; the sports concerns handled by “Commissions”, the family, women and child welfare given to the PNP that came up with “Desks” and the overall “social services” going to the LGUs, and so on. What happened to the DSWD and their Social Workers who earned their Social Work degree from colleges and universities? Many LGUs do not even have facilities to temporarily accommodate abused children and women.

 

On tourism service, its information and promotion efforts have been made inutile by the fast-growing cyber industry and technology. All that one needs to do if he wants to know about a tourist destination or facility is open his smart phone and presto!…he gets all that he wants, complete with directions and suggested packages. On the other hand, the salaried guys who are supposed to work for better ideas to drum up  interests, come up with copied ones from those of other countries’ and still worse, they chose what they thought could make the Philippines “different” or above the highly-attractive  nations around. The result is a big flop!

 

Some of these “wise guys” in the tourism industry thought that a once-a-year festival is enough to sustain the attraction of localities…or that a beauty pageant is all that matters to make the whole country, or a province, or a city, or a town, or even a barangay popular. They also practically “bundle” a region into “one destination” without giving regard to the clamor of specific LGUs to be identified with their respective tourist spots which is the right and honest “marketing” of a tourist destination. They misconceived the idea of “one” which just implies “united effort”, but must maintain the “specific locations” of what are being promoted.

 

Putting in the forefront of promotion the name of a region for instance can sow confusion because it affects the elements of travel and time in packaging…and definitely, disappointment. The regional location can just be mentioned as a “by the way”, with the specific destinations given the rightful and appropriate priority so that the tourists are HONESTLY informed of their destination. I will mention here again the case of the underground river in Palawan which  before was known as ST. PAUL SUBTERRANEAN PARK and whose promotion included its specific location which is too far away from Puerto Princesa City where the airport is located, to prepare the tourists of what to expect along the way. Today, the destination has become PUERTO PRINCESA UNDERGROUND RIVER!..when did the city have an underground river?

 

In Mindanao, there is a “region” with an acronym, SOCSKSARGEN, that supposedly refers to the provinces and cities that compose it such as South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and General Santos. The big question is…. why is Koronadal City and Tacurong City not specifically mentioned in the banner name in fairness to them because General Santos City is mentioned?…are the people behind the idea worried in coming up a longer acronym? General Santos City need not be spelled out and instead can just be included in “South Cotabato” just like Koronadal City, as Tacurong City is in “Sultan Kudarat”. With that, what can be referred to as components of the region are simply South Cotabato, Sarangani, and Sultan Kudarat. Much worst is the further contracting of the acronym into “SOX” which is the name of a very popular baseball team in America!…aside from being homonymous to SUCKS which is among the worst cussing word in the American language.

 

The office of these people is located in General Santos City which is already called by many travel writers as “filthy” with a “hellish traffic” and neglected landmarks. All that the guys should do is go out of their office and visit the TUNA QUEEN PARK and the park in the heart of the city, but most specially, walk their way around the city to end right at the downtown area. They should also visit the deteriorating Bula Public Market. They can cap their check for the day with a visit to the supposedly international airport. They should do that as General Santos is their “yard”, before going out of it to check on the others.

 

How can they present their “home” to visiting tourism officials from neighboring nations with pride if they have nothing to show as an honest-to-goodness park for instance? How can they show the wasteland that has become of the Tuna Queen Park?…and worst, the confusion at the supposedly international airport without even a simple canopy to protect departing and arriving passengers who cross the street to and from the parking lot to the terminal…and the mess worsened by the SOX right in front of the terminal! How can these guys look far beyond their “yard” when right under their nose, so many things are waiting to be done?

 

In the meantime, they should release the budget for the LGUs that need it to develop their respective touristic attractions. They should release the money without directing the LGUs to hire Consultants to work on their tourism plan as they are supposedly staffed with knowledgeable people who know better than the highly-paid guys who come from somewhere else. The budget is intended for the LGUs anyway and are subject to auditing, so what is the problem? …if the LGU officials do something about the money other that what it is intended for…Duterte has something for them!