Dispatch Media’s Interview with Ron
Dispatch Magazine recently launched a campaign to make a stand and let the voices of Filipino travel enthusiasts be heard! Before the recently held elections cum controversial hooha surprised a lot of Filipino netizens, they called for proactive travelers who can share their opinions and suggestions on the future of our country’s tourism with the hopes of creating a spark for more aggressive, responsible and brave travelers to inspire, move, act and make a difference in one of the country’s biggest industry.
Okay serious face, ON!
Voting is not about who’s running or winning but us–the voters–making a choice. As a Filipino voter, how can you make a difference as a traveler?
Before we can choose the right leader, or bet on who got the best propaganda. As a traveler, the simplest form of contribution that I can pitch-in is to promote self-awareness. Before we look for the solutions, we have to know first what the real problems are and identify which one matters the most. Some candidates will promise a bigger budget allocation on the tourism infrastructure, but the question is: Is that what we really need? Will that solve the puzzle? Aren’t we suppose to strengthen first the very basic foundation of travel which is the culture and its empowerment?
How satisfied are you with the state of the local tourism we have?
I am ambiguous. Satisfied that Filipinos in general, with the help of the social and new media, are self-promoting and significantly moving the tourism industry. So the government agency got a free ride on this. I know that the potential is there, just that it is still being mishandled. Here’s an analogy: Lemons are being thrown to the Philippines, while the government is busy making lemonades out of it, the netizens are way ahead of the game baking lemon squares, lime souffles, ponderosa glazed chicken roasts and the bloggers are already bringing out bottles of tequila.
How hopeful are you with the upturn of our tourism plight in the scale of 1-10 (10 being the highest)?
9, with the natural beauty of our country even at face value alone, we will never go wrong. We just need to properly channel the creative nature of people for it will be a winning formula. Why not 10? Because we are Filipinos, we are always trying to be humble and polite. We are proud without being too cocky about it.
Our tourism tagline may have said it all: ‘It’s More Fun in the Philippines’, but other than the amusing and leisurely aspects, do you think the other concerned citizens from the other side of the coin–such as our local tour guides, your neighborhood guest house owners, pasalubong vendors, boat men, mom and pop store owners, etc. get to have that same level of glorified fun as well? In our own little ways, how do you think can we address the these difficulties?
The tycoons and moguls are getting all the hypes on their businesses, thus leaving the SME’s behind in its shadow. Huge companies can handle their own marketing strategy because they have the mechanism for it. So the support should be directed towards the local small and medium-sized businesses and enterprises. In this sector, the money goes directly to the locals and the grassroots are the one being nourished, not the capitalists.
If you are given a minute to ask any running politician a question with regards to their plans for tourism and environmental protection, what would it be?
Before I throw a question on tourism and environmental issues, I want to test their aptitude first.
First question: What is the ugliest place or thing in your province?
Follow-up question: How will you sell it to me?
If you were running as a political candidate, what would you include in your platform with regards to tourism, environmental protection and other travel advocacies? Why?
My platform on tourism will be very simple. Empower the locals, enrich the culture and be true to our identity. We do not need first class resorts and world class facilities immediately to boost tourism, once we put the brand of our country as a tourist destination and establish the identity as a nation, everything will follow accordingly. Remember, we judge a good adobo for its flavor, not because of the its pretty ceramic bowl.
Having traveled to most provinces in our country and even to the far-off countries around the globe, can you state some model pro-tourism projects which you think are highly attainable in our country? How do you think can these efforts be achieved given with limited funds and technology?
I don’t really have any perfect model in mind, but I like how Bhutan is doing it. They are not too aggressive in terms of asking tourist to visit them, they are capitalizing on the people and the preservation of their culture and heritage. Which is a brilliant move, now travelers are drooling to set foot where “happiness is a place”. Talk about subtle branding, slow clap to Bhutan.