The Locality as a Tourist Destination, High Technology, and Travel as an Innate Desire

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!

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Boracay…a case of abused tourism

BORACAY…a case of abused tourism

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

I was tempted to use the title, THE RAPE OF BORACAY”, but on second thought, I opted to use the subtle, “abuse”…

 

More than five decades ago, Boracay was a pristine island with sugary-white fine sands and littering the shores, were bleached to whiteness corals and sponges. The shores were sparsely dotted with lean-to shelters of fishermen. During the 70s, the puka and heshi shells were discovered by enterprising locals and made them into exotic bracelets and necklaces. Soon enough, its shores got pockmarked with diggings that were as deep as three feet down. The accessories and jewelries from the stringed shells were so much in great demand in Europe, that many villages as far as Tablas island of Romblon became engaged in this “cottage industry”. That was the time when I came to this part of the archipelago as a new recruit of Philippines….and I saw them all.

 

From where we stayed, Alcantara and later Looc, we would wait for calm seas under the full moon during which we would venture out to Boracay on pump boats, stopping for a short sojourn on the Carabao Island which was along the way.

 

Philippine Airlines through its Tours and Promotions Office was advocating some kind of a “backyard tourism” in which local residents were encouraged to accommodate incoming tourists in their homes or put up simply- furnished cottages preferably made of local materials, especially, bamboo. That was what we counseled the local officials of Aklan which has a jurisdiction over Boracay, every time we were invited during their tourism-related seminars. That was what the late Governor of Antique, Evelio Javier also advocated. He proudly guided me around Boracay despite my having told him that I had made previous visits to the island when I was assigned in Tablas station of Philippine Airlines.

 

A few years later, resorts that started with two or three cottages were built, followed by bigger structures, until in so short a time, the whole island literally got covered with modern accommodation facilities. Septic tanks leaked with the waste flowing to the sea encouraging the growth of algae. Prostitutions reached its peak as practically, the island throbbed with activities for 24 hours….drugs followed.

 

Where did the revenue of the touristic facilities, with some owned by foreign investors go?  Part of it of course found their way to the maintenance and wages. But does the remaining chunk, ever find its way to the local banks or are there any other investments in other parts of the province for tangible projects?…or siphoned to the investors’ banks in Manila and later diverted to their home country!

 

Practically, Boracay has been “raped” by investors as what happened to islands mined of their natural wealth such as black sands, copper, nickel, etc. The colonies of bacteria from the septic tanks that flowed into the shallow waters of Boracay shall be there forever…as manifested by the thick growth of algae washed to the shores every morning.

 

It took a guy with a firm resolve from a guy, Rodrigo Duterte to put a stop to the abuse of tourism that has destroyed Boracay. It is a shame that what he did could be done by local officials but they did not lift a finger….a big question that they, themselves, can answer!

The Mechanization of Tourism Industry and the Relevance of Bloggers or e-Journalists

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.

 

 

My Own Idea of Tourism…just an opinion

My Own Idea of Tourism

…just an opinion

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

ON THE PART OF THE TOURIST, THE ESSENCE OF TOURISM IS “INTEREST”, WHILE ON THAT OF THE HOST IT IS “HONEST INFORMATION”.

 

THE EXPECTATION ON THE PART OF THE TOURIST IS “SATISFACTION”, WHILE ON THE PART OF THE HOST, IT IS “REVENUE”.

 

TO SUM THEM UP….

THE INTEREST TO TRAVEL THROUGH HONEST INFORMATION CAN BE CREATED FOR PEOPLE WHO EXPECT TO BE SATISFIED THAT RESULTS TO THE MOST COVETED REVENUE OF THE HOST.

 

TOURISM AS AN INDUSTRY TODAY IS DISTRIBUTED AMONG STAKEHOLDERS OR INTERESTED PARTIES, MAKING THE GOVERNMENT’S OWN “TOURISM AGENCY” IRRELEVANT…IN THIS REGARD, THE DEPARTMENT OF TOURISM AND ITS COUNTERPARTS DOWN THE LINE OF GOVERNANCE SUCH AS THE LGUs.

 

THE MULTI-SEGMENTATION OF THE TOURISM INDUSTRY IS SUCH THAT EACH STAKEHOLDER CAN HANDLE ITS OWN DIRECTLY TO EARN REVENUE:

 

  • EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS CAN PACKAGE THEIR TOUR PROGRAMS FOR RESEARCHES, FAMILIARIZATIONS, AND EXCHANGE PROGRAMS.

 

  • HOSPITALS AND SPECIALIZED CLINICS CAN HAVE THEIR OWN PACKAGE FOR CLIENTS SEEKING SPECIAL TREATMENTS.

 

  • PARISH LAY COMMITTEES CAN PACKAGE THEIR OWN PILGRIMAGES, RETREATS OR RECOLLECTIONS.

 

  • OUTDOOR SPORTS AGENCIES CAN COME UP WITH THEIR PACKAGE THAT INVOLVE ZIP LINES, SCUBA DIVING, MOUNTAIN CLIMBING, SPELUNKING OR CAVE EXPLORATION, BIRDWATCHING, HANG GLIDING, CROSS-COUNTRY MOTOCROSSES, DEEP-SEA FISHING, AND SIMPLE TREKKING OR CAMPING.

 

ALL OF THE ABOVE CAN BE ARRANGED DIRECTLY WITH AIRLINES, SHIPPING LINES, BUS COMPANIES, ACCOMMODATION FACILITIES, RESTAURANTS, TRANSFER HANDLERS, AND MOST ESPECIALLY, WITH TRAVEL AND TOUR AGENCIES…WHICH EVER IS OR ARE APPROPRIATE FOR THE ACTIVITY.

 

THE LGUs CAN HOLD FESTIVALS AND SPECIAL EVENTS TO ATTRACT VISITORS USING THEIR INFORMATION OFFICES AND COMMITTEES CREATED FOR THE OCCASIONS THAT ARE HELD AT LEAST ONCE A YEAR.

 

ON THE OTHER HAND, THE INFORMATION REQUIREMENT OF TOURISTS CAN BE SATISFIED BY THE UPLOADED VISUAL AND WRITTEN “BLOGS” IN THE CYBERSPACE OR THE INTERNET WHICH IS WHAT’S ALREADY HAPPENING. THEY CAN BROWSE THE CYBERSPACE  BY MERELY USING A  SMART PHONE.

 

 

 

The Mechanization of Tourism Industry and the Relevance of Bloggers or e-Journalism

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.

 

 

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!