The Department of Tourism (DOT) is eyeing to intensify its campaign in promoting lesser known provinces and not just the top tourist destinations in the country.
This was revealed by Tourism Undersecretary Kat de Castro following her recent visit to Baler, Aurora to grace their annual festivity called Coco-Sabutan Festival.
De Castro said she was invited by Baler Mayor Nelianto “Pilot” Bihasa to be part of the panel of judges for the Miss Baler pageant, one of the highlights of the festival.
In a conversation with Bihasa, De Castro said the mayor asked for help from the DOT to promote his province even more.
”I told him that shouldn’t be a problem because one of Secretary (Wanda Corazon) Teo’s priorities as DOT head is to put the spotlight also on lesser known destinations,” as she shared her experience in visiting the province.
De Castro said she assured Bihasa that DOT would “shift its focus from popular destinations, such as Boracay and Cebu, to destinations that would need more promotions.”
She said the mayor likewise asked help for endorsements from concerned government agencies with regard to infrastructure development, particularly roads leading to their town.
She said she also discussed the possibility of reviving regular flights to Baler with Bihasa.
”As of now, there are no flights for Baler even though they have an airport. A representative of PAL (Philippine Airlines), who was also one of the judges, will bring it up to their bosses,” she said.
Coco Sabutan Festival is an annual celebration of the people of Baler in honor of the Patrol Saint of Baler, San Luis Obispo, and in commemoration of the birth of the late President Manuel L. Quezon.
The festival also marks the 407th founding anniversary of the province.
Aside from Miss Baler pageant, the week-long celebration also features street dancing, Search for Little Ms. Baler, Historical Quiz Bee competition and other merry-making activities.
DOT trains more tour guides for Region 8
The number of well-trained and accredited tour guides in Eastern Visayas has increased more than 10 times, raising the bar of tour guiding in the region’s six provinces.
The Department of Tourism (DOT) recently completed the month-long training of 23 regional tour guides, tagged as the best capacity building for the group in the regional level.
“Now, they can be tour guides anywhere in the region. This is another feather to our cap because we only had two tour guides in the past,” said DOT Regional Director Karina Rosa Tiopes.
“They passed through the eye of the needle from pre-screening, examinations to 27 days of rigorous training.”
According to Tiopes, this is the first seminar for tour guides in the regional level. In the past, the tourism department conducted training only for community-based tour guides.
The activity aimed to achieve high standards of selection, training, and certification of all local guide practitioners in the region.
The Regional Tour Guiding Course module has considered provisions on European Union’s Innoguide Training as well as comments and recommendation of DOT-accredited tour guides.
The seminar topics include tourism industry overview, becoming a tour guide, knowing about Philippines, local tourism, destination and activities in the country, Filipino culture, environment, developing tour guiding knowledge and skills, tour guide tools, personality development, and crisis management.
Participants were also engaged in field works such as familiarization tours, research, and technique application.
Tiopes is optimistic that with the new set of accredited and well-trained tour guides, tourists will appreciate the region more.
Eastern Visayas, which consists of six provinces, is known for its natural and man-made attractions – Calbiga Cave, Ulot River, and Calbayog waterfalls in Samar; San Juanico Bridge, Macarthur Park, and Kalanggaman Island in Leyte; Calicoan Island in Eastern Samar; Biri Rock Formations and pink beach in Northern Samar; waterfalls in Biliran; and dive sites in Southern Leyte. (PNA) LAP/SARWELL Q. MENIANO