NEED FOR SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY & ETHICAL STANDARDS FOR TOURISM & HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY IN THE PHILIPPINES

The tourism industry is one of the biggest income potential for the Philippines. We have much to offer and can be very competitive in terms of rich historical, cultural, architectural, and natural resources to attract tourists from all over the world. One of our competitive advantages is that the Filipino is naturally hospitable, our smile is sincere and attractive and we are a peaceful loving people in general.

Unfortunately, there is this negative perception in the global and international tourism promotion circles. The Philippines needs to take a more aggressive role in terms of public relations, international promotions and expand its horizon that “It’s more fun in the Philippines”.

One of the causes of this negative perception, in the way as truth and is real, is tolerating unscrupulous foreign tourists or “aliens” whose intentions as “tourists” is to engage in illegal, immoral, even criminal activities. These so called “bad” tourists are not here to have wholesome fun but instead feed on their lusts, greed, and take advantage of poor children, women, with no concern for the respect of human person. 

If I may share an anecdote told to me by one of my staff that she once had the chance to visit the beautiful place of Boracay. She eventually meet this mother who resides with her family in the island she said ‘ alam mo karamihan sa mga turista dito halos dito na nakatira natatandaan ko maliit pa tong panganay ko nandito na yang mga yan’ her daughter is now 10 years old. Then I asked ‘why did they choose to stay there that long’ she said that they are offering ‘sex service’ even to the construction workers.

These Asian tourists are beautiful ladies and by just looking at them, you will think that they are here for vacation only and you won’t even imagine that they are in the prostitution business.

 

Travelling in and out of the country feels good especially if it is for vacation and relaxation. But, there are also dangers in travel and tourism especially if one does not know or is aware of the dark side.

Every human being has social responsibility, moral behavior and ethical standards to follow. Specially in terms of tourism, because this is our showcase, the industry that presents to the world of who we are, our heritage, culture and arts. It is essential that the world sees us as a clean, green and people of values and know how to enjoy life with a true Filipino spirit.

Being a predominantly God-fearing people who take their religion seriously, I wish to share the Social Teaching of the Catholic Church that states: “ Filling in the gap between the letter and the spirit. The solemn proclamation of human rights is contradicted by a painful reality of violations, wars and violence of every kind, in the first place, genocides and mass deportations, the spreading on a virtual

worldwide dimension of ever new forms of slavery such as trafficking in human beings, child soldiers, the  exploitation of workers, illegal drug trafficking, prostitution. “Even in countries with democratic forms of government, these rights are not always fully respected”.

“The situation of a vast number of the world’s children is far from being satisfactory, due to the lack of favorable conditions for their integral development despite the existence of a specific international juridical instrument for protecting their rights, an instrument that is binding on practically all members of the international community. These are conditions connected with the lack of health care, or adequate food supply, little or no possibility of receiving a minimum of academic formation or inadequate shelter. Moreover, some serious problems remain unsolved: trafficking in children, child labor, the phenomenon of “street children”, the use of children in armed conflicts, child marriage, the use of children for commerce in pornographic material, also in the use of the most modern and sophisticated instruments of social communication. It is essential to engage in a battle, at the national and international levels, against the violations of the dignity of boys and girls caused by sexual exploitation, by those caught up in pedophilia, and by every kind of violence directed against these most defenseless of human creatures. These are criminal acts that must be effectively fought with adequate preventive and penal measures by the determined action of the different authorities involved.”

GMA News Online wrote last year:

For his first mission as tourism consultant of Manila, cultural “rebel and activist” Carlos Celdran aims to revive the city’s “tourist belt,” which he said expands from the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) to Binondo.

“I presented my plan and ‘yung plan ko is to make Manila and Malate, ‘yung tourist belt, more logical,” Celdran said in an interview on GMA News TV’s “News To Go” Friday.

The tourist belt covers Luneta, Ermita, Malate, Intramuros, Binondo (Chinatown) and Quiapo, according to Celdran, who is also a tour guide.  

“All of that, once upon a time from CCP hanggang sa ilalim ng tulay (ng Quiapo), tourist belt ‘yan,” he said.

Celdran also suggested to have more directional signs and information kiosks for tourists in these areas. “(Tourists) don’t know where to go. They got off MRT or taxi, saan sila pupunta? Sometimes they have a map pero ‘yung map outdated na,” he noted.

Unfortunately, Celdran earned an ugly controversy in 2010 after he disrupted a solemn Holy Mass attended by the Arch Bishop of Manila and several bishops and priests at the Manila Cathedral. Celdran shamefully staged a protest action inside the church while the Holy Mass is going on. His wrong intention was to go against the Catholic Church’s opposition with reference to the reproductive health bill.

This blasphemous, disrespectful act made by “tourist guide” is a blatant act of one short of any ethical behavior and has no place to be representing Philippine tourism.

Baywalk at Manila Bay

One of the suggestions is to facelift Manila through urban renewal. An area that needs immediate attention is the tourist belt. We propose that a baywalk along Manila Bay will be a attraction for tourists.

A group of businessmen last year jump-started a movement to revive the Ermita-Malate tourist belt in Manila, whose old, low-rise charm and vibrant nightlife once made it the “gimmick” place of choice away from giant malls and crowded arcades.

Members of the Ermita-Malate Business Owners Association (Emboa) led the street cleanup and the repainting of sidewalks on Mabini Street to launch a series of projects promoting heritage tourism and bringing back the romance particularly at Remedios Circle.

With reference to entertainment, very important tourism activities is the showcase of our national heritage, culture, arts, music, and literature.  The Philippines is rich in its beauty, quite unique, known for our beautiful islands, nature, and exotic marine and animal life.

Our fiestas are world class and is a delight for tourists. As a child, my parents used to bring foreign visitors and tourists to Filipino cultural shows such as the Folklore performances by the Bayanihan Dance Company, beautiful songs by Madrigal Singers, world class symphonies by the Philippine Filarmonic Orchestra and other forms of FiIipino cultural performances. 

Filipino festivals like Sinulog Festival in Cebu (in honor of Santo Niño de Cebú), Ati-Atihan Festival in Kalibo, Aklan (in honor of Santo Niño), Kadayawan Festival in Davao, MassKara Festival in Bacolod City, Moriones Festival of Marinduque (part of Holy Week; commemorates Saint Longinus), Pintados-Kasadyaan in Leyte, Panagbenga Festival (Feb 26- Feb 27) in Baguio City and many more are but a few family oriented and very positive tourists attractions bringing out the true Filipino spirit which is knowing how to celebrate with wholesome fun, “It’s more fun in the Philippines”.

Sadly to say that another factor that attracts tourist in our country is gaming and gambling. According to Philippine Star, with their write up “Pagcor remits record P21.2 B to gov’t”, the writer stated:

“The Philippine Amusement and Gamin Corp. remitted a record P21.2 billionto the government or more than half of its total gross income last year, reaffirming its commitment to nation-building… Pagcor’s other income, however, rose 6.8 percent to P918.5 million.” It only means games and gambling in casino adds percentage in tourist visitors. 

It has been noted that family oriented tourism activities are more profitable and beneficial for the Philippines on the long run. In this way we preserve our Filipino values, heritage, and respect for the family and our natural tendency to have clean wholesome fun.

Is the gaming industry wholesome tourism?

All I know is that friends, acquaintances, that have been addicted to gambling have not only loss their fortune but also their families, friends, and shocking to know have taken their own lives when desperately in debt.

Another negative perception of the hospitality and tourism industry the Philippines is a choice destination for child exploitation, prostitution, and pedophiles activities.

New kind of pollution is pollution of “tourism of the flesh” or “flesh trade”, to my mind, it should not be promoted at all. What we need is to overcome evil is an abundance of good offering alternatives and also better livelihood for those who have been forced into prostitution because of poverty.

The Philippines’ countryside charm and cultural gems through drove at the first Asia Pacific Drive Tourism Conference, Auto and Travel Show scheduled at the Subic Bay Exhibition and Convention Center from January 29 to February 2.

A first of its kind in the country, the five-day confab and expo is presented by the Department of Tourism (DOT) and Automobile Association of the Philippines (AAP), the National Auto Club and the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA).

Keynoting the event are Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr. and Jean Todt, president of the Paris-based Federation Internationale d’ Automobile (FIA), the world’s largest group of car clubs and motor sports associations with over 200 member organizations in 132 countries.

“Drive Tourism is where participants move through a tourism highway or road network that allows them to see diverse attractions on the road and experience the local way of life.” Said Jimenez.

He said that AAP has been undertaking caravans in various provinces to boost domestic tourism and provide income opportunities in the countryside.

It was very refreshing to know that among the majority of participants and delegates of Asia Pacific Drive Conference shared their concern about social responsibility and ethical standards for tourism and hospitality industry.

Philippine tourism  should make a difference, establish a unique brand name something that transcends with not just material “lowly activity” but putting the Filipino spirit in the Place, People and Events. Truly with more wholesome fun because definitely there is no question that is “It’s more fun in the Philippines”. Mabuhay tayong lahat!

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