THERE’S no other way for Filipinos to polish their hospitality skills on tour guiding and tourism management other than through training or acquiring more knowledge and skills in schools.
This is why tourism advocate Alice Queblatin is mulling to set up a tourism academy in Cebu, in partnership with former tourism secretary Mina Gabor.
In an interview, Queblatin, founder of Southwind Travel and Tours, said she is leading the establishment of the academy that would help Cebu produce tourism professionals that can render quality tourism services, particularly on heritage and eco-tourism tour guiding.
She said she will forge a partnership with Gabor, who founded the International School of Sustainable Tourism based in Manila. Queblatin believes the former tourism chief can help craft modules that would improve skills of Cebuanos who want to have a thriving career in tourism.
“Tour guiding is beyond attending to your guests’ needs. It is all about storytelling,” said Queblatin, who was once an educator.
She noted that in today’s generation, many tour guides have not focused on storytelling as a main ingredient of tour guiding. Some even give half-baked information of a certain destination.
“We want to revive that. More than the activities, tourists love to listen to stories. They are hungry for information that they want to share to their friends back home,” she said.
To jumpstart this initiative, Queblatin announced that a three-day workshop on eco-tourism tour guiding will be organized in July.
This will be in collaboration with the Department of Tourism 7 to educate tourism frontliners such as tourism officers, tour guides, the academe and tourism professionals on how to boost eco-tourism and farm tourism products of Cebu.
Earlier, Queblatin, who is also the president of the Cebu Alliance of Tour Operations Specialists Inc., promised that the group will heavily promote farm destinations in Cebu to capture the growing market of tourists who are farm enthusiasts.
She said this is a strategy to lengthen the guests’ stay in the province from three nights to at least five nights.
“We are encouraging Cebuanos who own farms or even farmers to open their sites and showcase their livelihood to tourists,” said Queblatin, adding that “experiential tourism” is getting popular these days, especially among young travelers.
One of the farm sites she is pushing for is the Adlawon Nature Farm located in the highlands of Cebu. According to Queblatin, the farm has already developed 10 hectares of its property and now has four rooms, a restaurant and a vast expanse of green spaces ideal for team building and other big-group bonding activities.