Tap OFWs as tour guides, tourism ambassadors-A A +A
Wednesday, February 27, 2013
SENATORIAL candidate and former congresswoman Cynthia Villar (NP-Team PNoy) called on the Department of Tourism (DOT) to tap returning overseas Filipino workers as tour guides to welcome international visitors from such countries as Korea, Japan, Malaysia and the Middle East.
"This can be part of our reintegration efforts for OFWs since they are familiar with the customs, culture and even languages of countries that send a lot of tourists our way. It will also help put our tourists at ease since those looking after their needs are former workers in the countries that they came from," Villar, a social entrepreneur, explained.
She also noted that OFWs in different parts of the world could also be harnessed as tourism ambassadors by both the DOT and Department of Foreign Affairs.
"Equip our OFWs with promotional materials and develop a program where they can speak to the business community and other sectors in the countries where they work. These OFWs are very patriotic and many of them are loved by their employers and co-workers," she stressed.
Known by her campaign monicker "Misis Hanepbuhay," Villar said that the tourism industry is a fast-growing sector and both the national and local governments must work together to outbeat other rival countries in terms of tourist arrivals.
According to the DOT website, the Philippines welcomed over 4-million foreign visitors in 2012, marking the first time for the country to go over the 4-millionth threshhold.
Korea continues to be the country’s largest visitor market with 1,031,155 arrivals, accounting for 24.13% share of the total visitor volume. The said market rose by 11.45% from its arrivals of 925,204 in 2011.
Another record was achieved by the tourism industry as it is the first time that a source market of the Philippines reached its 1 millionth visitor.
"Many OFWs from Korea are able to speak the language fluently. They can be trained to become professional tour guides and interpreters," Villar said.
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on February 28, 2013.