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…!#$@^&%$!