New tourism chief should lead the way in making domestic travel hassle-free | Inquirer Opinion

New tourism chief should lead the way in making domestic travel hassle-free

/ 04:05 AM July 05, 2022

The appointment of Mayor Christina Garcia-Frasco as the new chief of the Department of Tourism (DOT) under the Marcos Jr. administration should be met with optimism in our bid for the tourism industry to flourish. That she vows to support the new administration’s “vision to revitalize tourism so it may significantly propel the Philippines’ post-pandemic economic growth” is good news.

There is money in tourism. We have many beautiful places to boast of, and we should be able to inspire our fellow Filipinos in discovering the country in a bid to boost domestic tourism. Moreover, with our vast population, it would be a big help to our local economy if we pick local destinations instead of touring abroad.


Why not revive the slogan “Huwag maging turista sa sariling bayan.” Add the tagline “It’s more fun in the Philippines” to entice more foreign tourists into visiting our country.

But how could we encourage fellow Filipinos to travel more within our own country when doing so is synonymous with stress?


My recent travel to my home province in Eastern Samar just to cast my vote this May, with our direct flight (Manila-Tacloban) rerouted (Manila-Cebu-Calbayog) by Cebu Pacific, was more a stressful than relaxing one.

Months of prior booking with Cebu Pacific doesn’t make sense when the airline cancels reservations a few days before the actual flight. Imagine our inconvenience, not to mention the additional expense of being redirected to somewhere far away from our original place of destination.

Upon check-in at Naia Terminal 3, on top of unmanaged long queues of passengers, the CebuPac personnel who attended to us was arrogant, stubborn not to give me one’s name, and did not grant my simple request to label the bag I checked in with “fragile.” Are these frontliners employed to argue with customers? Are they not trained in customer relations?

The number of fussy personnel, security guards, and other airport staff who delay the mobility of passengers is disgusting. There are too many unnecessary stops/ interrogations inside the airport with fewer person/s to talk to for assistance. Too many paid people inside are hired for just standing and not for the tasks they are supposed to do to ease the movement of passengers.

Different airports have different protocols to the detriment of passengers. For example, at the Mactan-Cebu International Airport, we had to remove our wristwatches during the final check-in, but never in Manila, Calbayog, and Tacloban airports. I wonder if removing one’s wristwatch is the standard? I do not remember doing so both in Hong Kong and South Korea.

And transportation fares must be regulated, just like in other countries where passengers pay a standard amount wherever they go. Yet, more often than not, travelers are taken advantage of whenever they take public transport, specifically via tricycle, taxi, or bangka. Can local government units help implement a standard rate on fares?

Most of all, despite easing COVID-19 protocols, requiring RT-PCR or antigen tests for certain destinations remains a strong deterrent for people to travel. Why not provide free tests? What a pity travelers incur additional expenses and delays due to such unreliable tests. Why don’t we empower our people by making them responsible for themselves instead of sowing fear and implementing ridiculous and erratic travel protocols that stop them from traveling?


It will take a lot of concerted efforts among different government agencies if we want tourism in this country to flourish and revive our economy.

For the time being, lead us the way with ease to different places, Secretary Garcia-Frasco!

BELEN DOCENA-ASUELO, [email protected]

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TAGS: COVID, Department of Tourism, marcos
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