Naga trains tour guides for more tourist arrivals
By Juan Escandor Jr.
IMPOSING. Holy Rosary Minor Seminary built in 1845, once
called Casa de Clerigo, emulates colonial architecture with thick
walls and bricks and arches.
Bracing for surge of more tourists in this city touted as the Pilgrimage Capital of Bicol, the city government has trained and organized a core of tourist guides ready to provide tour service within the city.
Alec Santos, tourism and culture and arts officer, said the city government initiated last month a training program aimed at responding to the demand of tour guide service brought about by some 600,000 tourists visiting this city last year, excluding the estimated 1M pilgrims and devotees during the Peñafrancia religious feast in September.
Santos said the training program, built into the tourism industry, would provide decent jobs to freelance workers as they sell the city through its historical and religious sites.
One of the oldest Spanish settlements in the country, Naga City boasts of Spanish-period structures and religious artifacts for its site tour within a one-kilometer radius of the central business district.
Santos said whole year-round hotels in Naga City with a total number of 2,493 rooms are 70 percent occupied.
“We want to respond to the demand of tourist guides which travel agencies sought, to make the stay of tourists memorable and informed,” Santos said.
He said 47 training graduates are now accredited to practice and collect fees for tour guide service which the city government sanctions.
Santos said the tour service will cover visits to the 17th century Peñafrancia Shrine, 18th century Minor Seminary, Cathedral, Basilica and museum and general assistance from the airport to hotel, around the city, until departure from the airport.
“Initially, we have agreed at a rate of P800/day to P1,500/day as tour service for a group of 12 to 25 persons,” he said.
Making his first earnings from tour guide service, after years of being an overseas Filipino worker in Middle East countries and Taiwan, Benito Nate Jr. is more than happy touring Chinese teachers and students around the city.
Nate narrated he easily interacted with the Chinese because he speaks Mandarin like them and that he was even treated just like one of them.
He said he did magic tricks for the Chinese kids while they were on the bus in between the sites which is his additional service to his package.
Santos said the tour guides were given lecture on the basics of guiding tour, history of Naga City and eco-tourism adventure and tested by practical application of the theories of tour guiding through mock tours within the city.
He said it also includes written examination on English grammar, sentence structure, word usage and vocabulary.
Santos said the city tourism office will serve as the coordinating and referral center of tourists and travel agencies who are in need of tour guides.
He explained that the transaction of tour service is between their accredited tour guides and their clients, travel agencies or individuals.
Santos boasts of language-specific tour guides who can speak Mandarin, Arabic, Japanese, Korean, Indonesian and English among the specialized service the city-hall accredited tour guides provide.