Issue of September 29, 2019
Mt. Province
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Personalized tours in Baguio to be done by senior citizens
by Hanna C. Lacsamana

Having personal touch and accounts is their edge, and in such case, age really does matter.

With their wisdom and pride of place, the manongs and manangs who are residents of the Baguio would know their community better, and they are seen to be the best people to conduct tour guiding and promote the city to tourists.

Twenty-nine senior citizens of Baguio recently finished a seven-day community guiding seminar organized by the Department of Tourism-Cordillera in coordination with the City Tourism Office as part of efforts to produce individuals who would be sources of accurate information, know the correct approaches, and could efficiently sell the city to tourists and visitors.

City Supervising Tourism Officer Aloysius Mapalo said senior citizens have stories to tell, which for the city government is very important, because being locals, the seniors have a well of information to tap, they have personal affinity to the place which is their asset, and they could contribute personal stories that are interesting, educational, authentic, and entertaining.

“It is Baguio history told from a personal level,” Mapalo said.

“From our senior citizens, we felt a different kind of energy and aggressiveness to really contribute to the community, unlike some regular trainees who only wanted to have a job or upgrade their skills,” he added.

He said with many normally wanting to tour on their own, they hope to encourage more tourists to prefer availing the services of tour operators or agencies in the city with the boost that the senior citizens may share. Right now, those who use tour agencies are schools having educational and school-related tours, with some of them also preferring to organizer their own tours.

DOT-Cordillera Acting Director Jovi Ganongan commended the participants for their extraordinary show of enthusiasm and interest in making the tourism industry inclusive.

In other countries, she said the industry employs senior citizens as they want to be productive despite their late age. In fact, seniors-led tours are more interesting because they tend to inculcate values and spontaneous lessons on topics they can talk with authority.

Ganongan said the seniors’ training the DOT provided included seminar on Baguio’s history and culture, Baguio as a creative city, the direction and development plans of the city government; practical tour guiding techniques and nature interpretation where the flora and fauna and different species found along forest trails were discussed in order for them to understand what are normally shown to tourists when they conduct walks-through or leading forest bathing activities.

They also underwent mock-guiding and were rated by invited tour guides and operators.

They will later undergo a practical examination. They will be issued a certificate of completion of training if they pass. After that, they could already apply for accreditation with the DOT for community guiding in Baguio.

Ganongan said those who were selected from a number of interested to join the training were those with at least some stock knowledge or past learning on tourism and related concerns and those with the ideal personality required in tourism.

“We want to make tourism as inclusive as possible as aimed by the national tourism development plan. After this we plan for them to undergo continuous education and eventually mobilize them,” Ganongan said.

She added that the finishers have already volunteered their services to the city government activities whenever they are needed.

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