‘Culture of tourism’ to boost arrivals

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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

EVERYBODY’S BUSINESS. Consul Robert Lim Joseph, who is chair emeritus of various tourism organizations, says fostering a culture of tourism “is everybody’s business.” He says “the warmth, hospitality and smiles of Filipinos are major lures for tourists and if complemented by right facilities and services,” the Philippines will have one of the best tourism to offer the world. (Amper Campaña)


THERE are many ways to entice foreign tourists to keep coming back to the Philippines and one of them is through a “culture of tourism.”

Culture of tourism is “good manners and right conduct through the inculcation of best traits of the Filipinos put into practice and services,” said tourism advocate Milagros Espina of the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) in a tourism forum held at the University of San Jose-Recoletos (USJR) last Monday.

“The culture of tourism is everybody’s business. It is something already inherent in every Filipinos but needs to be awakened. The warmth, hospitality and smiles of Filipinos are major lures for tourists and if complemented by right facilities and services, we will have one of the great tourism to offer to the world,” said consul Robert Lim Joseph, who is also chair emeritus of various tourism organizations, including Tourism Educators and Movers (Team) Philippines and Network of Independent Travel Agencies (Nitas).

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Joseph said they have been promoting the culture of tourism and have been actively pushing its advocacy with tourism players in close partnership with the local government units since 2004. He believes establishing a good culture of tourism is equally important as promotion as this will “add flavor” to foreign tourists’ experience.

Pride of place

“Our culture of tourism should be that of pride of place, as well as one that promotes family values and good governance,” he said.

Speaking before a crowd of tourism students, Francisco Lardizabal, chief tourism promotions officer of the Department of Tourism (DOT), pointed out that the culture of tourism entails two things: first, is understanding the culture of the traveler and striving to serve his/her interests, needs and wants; and second, is the traveler’s understanding of our culture.

He noted that the former requires continuous learning, given the fact that every tourism market has a distinct culture. He said the latter requires preparation and coordination with the local community, tourism stakeholders and the LGU to be able to showcase the Filipino brand of hospitality, provide them with the best tourism facilities and services and offer fairness toward tourists.

“Let’s take Halal for example. People would think it is only no-pork requirement but if you research and learn more you would know that it is more than that. Halal involves ritual in slaughtering the animal and in preparing the food, among others,” said Lardizabal, adding that learning a tourist’s way of life and interests will help us better serve them.

He said a culture of tourism is one of the vehicles for sustainable tourism development because aside from its socio-economic benefits the culture of tourism can help improve well-being of the country.

“The DOT, together with its stakeholders, endeavors to explore more possible ways to use culture of tourism as tool in fighting poverty,” said Lardizabal.

Showcase

According to the speakers, the culture of tourism can be showcased in various ways such as in maintaining clean and beautiful environment, maintaining and ensuring safety, peace and order, and in being honest, courteous and gracious when dealing with tourists.

But sustaining it should be everybody’s responsibility.

Police superintendent Renato Dugan, PRO 7 public information office chief, said that while they have been doing their best in maintaining peace and order and ensuring the safety of tourists, they still need the cooperation of the public.

He said the number of police personnel is really not sufficient to secure all people in Central Visayas. Dugan said the region only has 8,500 police personnel with about seven million population.

The police-population ratio stands at 1:756. “We are doing our best to maintain peace and order and we also encourage the public to also do their share,” he said, suggesting that the public should refrain from using their mobile gadgets when in public places.

Preserving the region’s natural resources, meanwhile, is also a shared responsibility said Fr. Manny Bolilla, OAR. He said Cebu is a city rich in history but some of its areas, such as Colon St., are potential tourism areas but need to be cleaned up.

“Tourism is more than just the attractions, our greatest asset is the warmth of the Filipino people,” said Edwin Ortiz, a member of the board of directors of the Tourism Promotions Board. “While our own brand of hospitality is our advantage, all our inherent positive traits should be seen in all aspects of tourism.”

“People say we don’t have the Eiffel Tower...this and that. But, we don’t need those because tourism for us is Filipinos with a smile. We are a country that wears a smile,” Joseph said.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 20, 2014.

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