THE LOCALITY AS A TOURIST DESTINATION,
HIGH TECHNOLOGY, AND TRAVEL AS AN INNATE DESIRE
By Apolinario Villalobos
First of all, the primary objective of a locality in its desire to become a tourist destination is to earn REVENUE. In this regard, one way is to come up with CONCEIVED ATTRACTIONS, the most common of which is the fiesta or festival. The most important supports for this particular activity are the ACCOMMODATION FACILITIES and the COOPERATION FROM THE RESIDENTS. On the other hand, the offices of the LGU, staffed with SALARIED PEOPLE ARE EXPECTED TO EXERT THEIR SHARE OF EFFORT.
Aside from conceived attractions, the locality can make use of the NATURAL ATTRACTIONS such as swift rivers, caves, mountains, forest with its wildlife, as well as, fruits, vegetables and flowers from farms that grow them being the source of livelihood of the locals.
The local government unit or the LGU is SUPPOSED to have an office for the above objective – the TOURISM OFFICE which should be the OVERALL COORDINATOR. Whoever is in-charge of the said office is expected to be knowledgeable about WHAT THE LOCALITY HAS TO OFFER FOR THE KIND OF TOURISTS THAT ARE BEING TARGETED, SUCH THAT IF THE LOCALITY HAS ACCOMMODATION FACILITIES THAT CAN SATISFY LOCAL TOURISTS WHO ARE NOT FINICKY, THEN, THE EFFORT SHOULD BE CONCENTRATED TOWARDS THEM. IT IS ILLOGICAL TO EXERT MUCH EFFORT TO ATTRACT INTERNATIONAL TOURISTS IF THEY CHOOSE TO STAY IN ANOTHER LOCALITY KILOMETERS AWAY WHERE “DECENT” HOTELS OF INTERNATIONAL STANDARD ARE FOUND….MAKING THE OBJECTIVE OF THE LOCALITY WHICH IS THE TOURIST DESTINATION INUTILE. For example, if a festival is to be held in town “A” that got no first class hotels so that international tourists stay in town “B” because it has plenty, how can town “A”, then, attain its objective to earn?…In this case, why not put more expectation on the local tourists who are not finicky as regards “international standards”?
Tourism is supposed to generate information, hence, educational. This matter is beginning to seep into the consciousness or understanding of Filipinos who are now appreciating the adage that says about their being tourists in their own country. Students are traveling around on “educational tours”, companies give their employees “familiarization tours” as part of their benefit package, families who can afford to travel and stay in certain local localities are willing to spend. These phenomena are what, whoever is in charge of touristic activities of the locality, should bear in his or her mind….that any Philippine tour destination can survive on Philippine market….festival or no festival. The international market comes into the picture by way of high-tech promotions…NATURALLY.
TODAY, THE PROMOTION OF A TOURISTIC ACTIVITY OR DESTINATION IS NO LONGER A PROBLEM DUE TO THE PROLIFERATION OF BLOGGERS, BOTH LOCALS AND FOREIGN…THEY WHO VISIT TOURISTIC DESTINATION ON THEIR OWN. MODERN TECHNOLOGY IS SUCH THAT, ALL IT NEEDS IS FOR A TRAVELLER TO OPEN A LAPTOP OR DESKTOP COMPUTER, OR SMART PHONE TO CHECK THE INTERNET FOR DESTINATIONS THAT SUITS HIS OR HER INTEREST. CONSULTATIONS WITH TOUR AGENCIES AND TRAVEL ARRANGEMENT CAN BE MADE DIRECTLY, ASIDE FROM AIRLINES, BUS COMPANIES OR SHIPPING LINES THAT OFFER CRUISES. IN OTHER WORDS, THERE IS NO NEED FOR TOO MUCH EFFORT, ESPECIALLY, EXPENSE ON THE PART OF THE LGU TO ATTRACT INTERNATIONAL TOURISTS. THE DESIRE TO TRAVEL IS INNATE IN A PERSON, WHETHER HE IS AN ASIAN, AN AMERICAN, OR EUROPEAN. HE WILL FIND MEANS TO BE WHERE HIS OR HER CURIOSITY WILL DRIVE HIM OR HER.
TOURISM AS AN INDUSTRY CAN ONLY BE SUSTAINABLE IF THE LOCALITY IS CAPABLE OF ATTRACTING BOTH THE LOCAL AND INTERNATIONAL TOURISTS BASED ON WHAT IT CAN “HONESTLY” AFFORD TO OFFER. IF THE TOURIST ARRIVES IN A LOCALITY, HE OR SHE DOES NOT GO TO THE TOURISM OFFICE, BUT STRAIGHT TO THE HOTEL FOR BOOKING. IN THE ABSENCE OF BROCHURES AS IN THE CASE OF SMALL LOCALITIES, THE STAFF HANDLING THE RECEIPTION COUNTER CAN GIVE INFORMATION AND CAN EVEN HELP IN ARRANGING FOR A MODE OF TRANSPORT, SUCH AS HIRED CAR, JEEPNEY, OR TRICYCLE.
THE WORST THING THAT COULD HAPPEN TO A LOCALITY THAT IS AMBITIOUSLY VYING FOR THE INTERNATIONAL SEGMENT OF TOURISM, IS WHEN A SUPPOSEDLY “INTERNATIONAL” ACTIVITY FLOPS, RESULTING TO THE DISAPPOINTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL TOURISTS!…. DISAPPOINTMENT CAN RESULT FROM UNCOMFORTABLE TRAVEL DUE TO POTHOLED ROADS TO THE DESTINATION AND UNREALIZED EXPECTATIONS UPON ARRIVAL AT THE DESTINATION WHICH IS THE “TOURIST ATTRACTION” BEING PROMOTED. AND, THESE GUYS CAN BLOG AND VERBALLY SPREAD DISAPPOINTING EXPERIENCES AMONG FRIENDS BACK HOME! ON THE OTHER HAND, “INTERNATIONAL VISITORS” WHOSE STAY ARE ON FOC (FREE OF CHARGE) BASIS ARE EXPECTED TO BE FULL OF PRAISES TO SHOW THEIR GRATITUDE TO THEIR HOST.
EXPECTEDLY, FOR THE EVENT TO BE SUCCESSFUL, UTMOST “COORDINATION” TO BE INITIATED BY THE OFFICE CONCERNED WITH THE REST OF PARTIES THAT ARE IN ONE WAY OR ANOTHER, INVOLVED, SHOULD BE MADE, SUCH EFFORT BEING CRUCIAL. IF THIS IS NOT DONE, SOMETHING MUST BE WRONG SOMEWHERE.
Wildlife as an attraction will always be there unless, the forests catch fire or illegal loggers cut down trees without let up. Promoting it by attracting supposedly international groups but with the government paying for their expenses is not necessary, in my opinion. Designating a day or days to come up with a semblance of festival is for me, still not necessary, because the wildlife is there 24/7 throughout the year. The same idea goes with the real festivals that have to do with the locality’s customs and traditions, foremost among which is the phenomenal “ati-atihan” festivals of the Aklan, Iloilo and Cebu, the Moriones of Marinduque, etc.
AGAIN…BLOGGERS ARE JUST AROUND – THEY WHO ARE MAINTAINING THEIR SITES IN THE CYBERSPACE WITH THE OBJECTIVE OF FILLING THEM UP WITH INFORMATION ABOUT THEIR TRAVEL IN ORDER TO ATTRACT FOLLOWERS. THE MORE BLOGS THEY MAKE, THE BETTER FOR THEM AS THEY BECOME MORE POPULAR …GIVING THEM THE OPPORTUNITY TO OPEN THEIR SITES TO ADVERTISERS…AS THEIR OWN WAY OF EARNING. THAT IS WHAT HI-TECH LIFE IS ALL ABOUT TODAY….IT AFFECTS JUST ANYTHING IN THIS WORLD…INCLUDING TOURISM!