Thursday, May 7, 2009

Rainy days

rainy days make one want to sleep all day...I wish.


Tom said...

Dear Mr. Pangilinan,

The title of your Blog entry is fitting... "Rainy Days" - but I would like to use it in a metaphorical sense. In your earlier post regarding 10 reasons to be hopeful for the Philippines, I keyed on your third point which I quote here:

3) WE HAVE A HUGE TOURISM INDUSTRY POTENTIAL. Our people are by nature extremely friendly and hospitable. We are only doing/achieving some 3M tourist arrivals annually while our neighbors are doing four or five time more with 12 to 15 Million tourist visits annually. It has been said that other countries in the ASEAN are doing so much more with so little in terms of natural wonders and beautiful sites while we are doing so little with so much. With the right infrastructure such as highways and airports and seaports in place we can be the number one tourist destination in Asean if not Asia.Have you ever seen the movie, "Field of Dreams," where the movie's most memorable quote runs like this, "If you build it they will come?" The premise of course was that in order to bring back or to invite some of his favorite baseball players of yesteryear to come play in his corn field, the hero must build the baseball diamond right smack dab in the middle of his fruit bearing corn field. He builds it and they come.

To the point, you can't expect foreigners to jump up and down clamoring to come visit the Philippines when you can't even provide a decent sewage or sanitation system, well-maintained rest areas, and access roads. You mentioned about infrastructure.

Indeed, Filipinos are the most hospitable people - the happiest and the most welcoming. Yet they haven't got a clue as to what tourism is all about. People's attitudes and salesmanship are so fundamental and basic toward the success of a country's tourism program. If you doubt my words just take a look at Jamaica, or the Carribean nations, or the Gulf of Mexico rim nations.

Local people must know how to present their "treasures," their sights, their crafts, their music, their heritage, their folklore, their traditions, their cuisine - in other words people must stop panhandling tourists and treating them like cash cows and behave like the welcoming hosts that they are.

I have been to Makati a couple of times. Nice accommodations to be sure but why can't I find a working toilet in the mall with a toilet seat that is not broken?

Singapore - to use an example that you raise - is successful because it is clean. People go about their business as if everything is normal. They don't have vagrants roaming the streets. They don't have beggars pestering visitors. The goods that they sell are varied and are priced right. Compare and contrast that to businesses in Manila or Makati. Would you say that the goods sold in Makati are competitively priced with the rest of the ASEAN countries? Or would you say that the tourists wait until they hit Hong Kong or Singapore to buy those souvenir trinkets?

Mr. Pangilinan I wish you well in your efforts to promote Philippine tourism. Take it from me though. . . would I, a native born Ilocano from Ilocos Sur desire to come back home with my family from abroad in order to visit my country, immerse members of my family in Filipino folklore and culture, partake in the excellent cuisine, visit the many wonderful sights, and spend my hard earned money there so that jobs can be created for my fellow Filipinos?

I can answer this question with a question. Will I be able to drive my own rented car while I visit the cities and provinces? Will there be rest areas along the way?

Thanks for hearing me out.


Tom Buenavista
Florida, USA

Kiko Pangilinan said...

Hi Tom!

Thank you for your post. It is much appreciated.

Indeed, you have presented valid issues regarding the state of our tourism industry. Clearly, there remains much to be done. If the problems you pointed out did not exist then we would not be behind compared to Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand and would perhaps be at par with them if not better.

It is precisely why I said huge potential because I do recognize that if we are to catch up, if we are to compete then we do need to do our homework and do the work well. Most certainly there is much work ahead.

It has been said that identifying the problem is half the problem solved, The other half is putting in place the needed matters to solve the problem.

We may have a long way to go but I believe we can get there sooner rather than later. Thailand and Singapore and Malaysia were all able to turn their tourism industry around in a span of a decade. With the right leadership and the necessary policies implemented relentlessly, I see no reason why we should not be able to do the same.

Thanks again for your insights. They are much appreciated.