WE LACK practicing accredited tour guides in Negros Occidental. Only very few professional tour guides who finished the month-long seminar workshop of the Department of Tourism, and the Provincial Tourism Office passed the examination. A small number are there in the field to promote and sell our province. Some who have been qualified prefer to be tour operators, college instructors, or have simply evolved to become office workers and housewives.
I hope the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority could help us in upgrading our tour guides by issuing national certificates to the “deserving” aspirants. Tour guiding is an art and should titillate the senses. It is not just fact-giving and describing artifacts. It should be performed by an excellent story teller who uses theatrical antics to make his account very convincing. Tour guides should always mix the wisdom of the old school and the strategy of the new school. We cannot afford to give tour guiding to a dead rat.
Absolute tour guides should understand the totality of the tourism industry. They should master the culture of Negros, the abilities and the stupidities of the Negrosanons. Our “hacienda breeding” is still very strong. This was buried in our consciousness by the feudal lords of not-so-very-long-time-ago. The “afuera” and “echa fuera” are still ingredients of our multi-cultural society. We have to learn to live with them.
A tour guide is committed and dedicated to his job. His personality should be pleasing and he has to understand the other hundred synonyms of “pleasing personality.” His slogan should be “Cleanliness is next to Godliness.” He should speak and understand best the “lingua franca” of tourism, English. It is a bonus to have a knowledge of other languages: Japanese, Korean, Chinese, German and French. Tour guiding is public speaking. The tour guide should not speak and spit at the same time.
The speaker should not look like a Christmas tree with his watch, bracelet, sunglasses, necklace, ID card, earrings, scarf, collar pin, and sparkling belt buckle. Lady tour guides should not appear as sex object before the tourists … open neckline, red panties inside the thin, fitted, white shorts. A guided tour is not a cheap entertainment. It should be differentiated from a nocturnal tour.
A tour guide should know specialty restaurants. Tourists want to taste our chicken inasal, batchoy, piaya, lumpia-ubod, guapple pie, pili square, napoleones, dulce gatas, and other delicacies. The Negros Showroom is always worth the visit. Jojo’s Masskara factory is still an attraction. Traffic routes are very important. Some traffic lights are not functioning. They may want to see a dancing traffic enforcer, not a sleeping enforcer. Do not bring them to sidewalks. Our sidewalks are for survival of the fittest.
The master list of the tourists should be in the hands of a tour guide. Some tourists are not reporting to their bus. They make side trips at the central market for “danggit,” “gumaa” and “posit.”
The driver should be briefed properly when to slow down or stop. There should be functional microphone (with pleasant sound) in big buses. The tour guide is not a duck. He cannot afford to “kwack!” for eight hours. If he does it, he should check if he can lay an egg. There should be fire extinguisher, medicine kit, umbrellas, and bottled water.
Do not play favoritism with some guests. Pay attention to someone who is really sick. Always assist the senior citizens (ask permission first). A tour guide should be ready to become a museum guide if the house guide is not available. There are some female tourists who are too sexy, very provocative, and too vulgar. A tour guide should adjust his passion in “silent mode.” He has to show always his Filipino brand of hospitality.
Give your tourists a time to relax or even sleep on the way back especially if you are passing the same route. Always get ready with fine music pleasing to the senior citizens and the millennials. Always hit your schedule … not too early, not very late. Before going down, thank the tourists for joining the tour on behalf of your company or city officials.
Go down ahead. Thank them by the door of the bus. You may shake hands. Others may hug. Do not ask for a tip, but don’t refuse a tip. See to it that you don’t make a short cut in your trip, and nothing is omitted in the itinerary. When your tourists are all down, meet your tour operator for your pay. Thank the driver for your partnership. Do not quarrel with bad driver. Report him to your operator.
I am hoping that what I am sharing here would encourage tour guides and would-be tour guides to give their best always for Negros. In Silay, we have already started the training for new tour guides. I also included some lessons in reception, protocol, etiquette, and customer service. Enjoy acting, tour guides!