Filipinos are the best people to talk about the Philippines as a tourist destination. However, because of language barriers, foreigners are flocking to various tourist destinations, offering tour guiding services to non-English speaking travelers such as Koreans, Japanese and Chinese.
A group of tour guides in Puerto Princesa aims to change this growing problem, equipping themselves with foreign language skills in order to be more globally competent.
“Filipinos are already known to be proficient in English, which can be considered to be the most important medium of communication,” said Christie Jimeno, president of the Puerto Princesa Tour Guide Association, Inc. (PPTGA). “However, with the influx of tourists from non-English speaking countries, we have also learned the value of being able to communicate in their mother tongue. Understanding and speaking with them in their language will make them feel at home, gain confidence in travelling in the country and increase their sense of security as well.”
PPTGA recently embarked on a series of training program using the tourism skills grant from the Department of Tourism (DOT). Funded by the Government of Canada and administered by Asian Development Bank (ADB) under the Philippines Improving Competitiveness in Tourism (PICTourism) program, it was designed to support the government’s effort to achieve inclusive growth and create employment opportunities in tourism.
The group, with its more than 100 individual members, implemented a training program that consisted of classroom training, tour terminology and script writing, field familiarization and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) assessment. The languages the group focused on were Korean, Chinese (Mandarin) and Japanese (Nihongo). Armed these language skills, the Puerto Princesa tour guides aim to make Philippine experience more appealing for the growing number of tourists from neighboring Asian countries.
Blue Palawan Beach Club in Puerto Princesa
Jimeno said that learning foreign languages will lead to inclusive growth in Puerto Princesa’s tourism industry, creating more job opportunities for local tour guides. “One of our main goals with this training program is to be at par and to be able to compete with foreign tour guides, giving us more opportunities for tour bookings.”
To maximize the opportunity, PPTGA extended the training to tour guides who are not members of their association. The group also plans to further increase the number of foreign language speaking tour guides by cascading what they have learned to those who were not able to attend the program.
Jimeno said that the foreign language competency training complements those which have been conducted by the DOT for licensed and accredited tour guides. With the help of the training, the PPTGA aims to increase the income of tour guides by at least fifty percent, achieve a 20 percent increase in tourist bookings, as well as secure DOT accreditation and NCII certification for the successful participants.