May 20, 2024

The city government will soon impose rules to regulate tour guiding activities in Baguio in line with the thrust towards a responsible and sustainable tourism industry.

Mayor Benjamin Magalong and the City Tourism Operations Office expressed agreement to proposals for said regulations which they said would serve to enhance the travel experience in the city.

There are proposed regulations covering the tour guiding sector being studied at the city council as part of the proposed amendment to the city’s Tourism Code.

Magalong expressed hope the proposal will be adopted soon to prevent unpleasant travel experiences by some visitors because of untrained or non-local tour guides.

“Tour guides should know our place’s tourist spots, culture, and recreational activities by heart. They should have relevant cultural, historical, and practical knowledge of our city including its day-to-day conditions to effectively guide our visitors,” the mayor said.

However, there are people in the hospitality and travel industry who take on the job without the qualifications such as non-locals who have limited knowledge of the city and its circumstances.

This, according to the mayor, results in hassles and problems that affect the city’s image.

He said the city can tap the tour guides that were trained by the city and the Department of Tourism to professionalize their ranks.

One tour operator told the mayor because accredited tour guides are adequately trained, they know their roles to “deliver relevant commentaries including on history, facts, trivia, events, updates and information about the place, lead in navigating and pointing directions, shepherd and discipline the guests, implement and observe local ordinances and practices, share about the culture, delicacies, creativity, and other unique features of the destination and to implement responsible and sustainable tourism” as spelled out by a member of the tourism industry.

“The city needs tour guides who know the city by heart, someone who lives in and “breathes Baguio,” the operator said as he batted for the adoption of a legislation to regulate the practice and avoid the “malpractice of these non-local and non-accredited tour guides as what Banaue, Sagada, Puerto Princesa, Bohol, and others are doing.”

“Remember the incident with a bus stuck in Session Road? Had they been guided by a local guide, the tourist bus could have been properly guided with the right directions. Most independent tourists rely on ‘road maps/ navigators.’ The same goes with a tour guide who is not a resident of the place. The AI navigator and the non-local guide are not aware of the current situation of the roads or the traffic conditions.  I have also heard inaccurate information shared by non-local guides. Misinformation may taint or jeopardize the image of our city,” the tour operator said.

One accredited tourist guide who is a member of the World Federation of Tourist Guide Association (WFTGA)  also shared his piece:

“I feel this has to be addressed urgently. As a tourist guide myself and a tourist guide trainer of WFTGA, having (these rules) might be of great help not just for the sector but for the city, as it is the image of the city that is at stake.”

“This has been a problem for many years in many cities. Locking in rules and aggressive execution based on the idea of mandating all tours to have a local guide will give our city a sense of security among tourists and the residents at the same time, where somehow, operators and guides from outside the city will hesitate to operate in face of a set of sanctions waiting for them if they violate.” – Aileen P. Refuerzo