The good news in local tourism is the increasing number of arrivals in Naga City which according to records have reached more than 859,000 a couple of years ago. The bad news is the unfavorable feedback on the type of reception and quality of customer service that some of our visitors’ experience among our transport, hotels and eateries.
Although a landlocked area Naga City is blessed with cultural and natural endowments that together with the perception of warm hospitality of Bicolanos we can market Naga City as a preferred tourism destination. We have the physical attributes that can attract more local and foreign tourists within our boundaries and in our surrounding municipalities. Within the city we have natural spots in barangay Carolina: the Malabsay falls, Panicuason hot spring and the Mt. Isarog National Park for nature lovers and adventure-seeking tourists.
Our high and medium class shopping malls are helpful factors for tourists looking for low-priced but high quality merchandizes, products and goods for any level and type of customer segment. We have good hotels for accommodating an increasing number of vacationers. We have excellent cafes, restaurants and native eateries that could be marketed as Bicol’s bests not only the famous “express” but also native foods and cuisines that could satisfy even the most discriminating palate or tasters.
We have universities and colleges campuses that could be opened for tourists to see and interact with young students or benchmark our educational performances. We have religious churches, historical shrines and relics enough to package Naga City alternatively as a Pilgrim City and the Queen City of Bicol.
The new city government is consciously improving the status of our tourism sector with fresh plans and strategies; improving our public parks or constructing public or private recreation infrastructure that can add to our marketability. Pressing the national government to improve accessibility through land and air transport will also help, although the City does not have the full control of these factors.
But there is one most important aspect of tourism marketing – the human factor. We are wanting with the kind of reception and customer service that tourists look for. This is evident in the kind of drivers, hotel attendants and service crews in our local transport, shopping centers, hotels, restaurants and food chains. Ordinary and even special tourists ride our hotel vehicles, taxis, tricycles and jeepneys. They go to our shopping centers; they eat in our restaurants and eateries, and they go around our places of interests. In other words, drivers and service people project directly the image of tourism in Naga City – not just government officials or managers of establishments. They are the face of the business. Any unkind attitude of drivers and unpleasant faces or arrogance displayed by customer service staff have impact on the impression of the local tourist industry. We local customers can simply excuse these postures or just ignore them for the purpose of peace.
Our training centers must offer education programs for the tourism service industry especially for people assigned or working directly at the contact facilities or at the point sales. I think this is not too much to ask from organizations particularly those making money from our tourism industry. RRB