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VIEWS: 136 PAGES: 29

									                                             Vol. 01 No.4          June 2009




TOUR GUIDING IN BAGUIO CITY, PHILIPPINES: PERSPECTIVES
         FROM THREE STAKEHOLDER GROUPS

                                                  1
                                                   Ma. Beatriz C. Cimacio, MA.
                                         2
                                             Daisy Blesilda C. Pormentira, MBA
                                                        3
                                                          Olivia H. Reside, Ph.D.
                                                          4
                                                            Minnie B. Nullar, MBA
ABSTRACT

        The study dealt on the perceptions of three stakeholder groups on
the status of tour guiding in Baguio City. The three groups are the
government sector represented by the Department of Tourism in Baguio
City; the private sector represented by three travel agencies in the city and
representatives from the tourist guide association. Findings revealed that
tour guiding is perceived by all of the respondents as important to the
tourism industry. The situation of tour guiding in the city is, however, grim
as there is very little work for tour guides. The factors that have led to this
grim state are: the seasonal nature of the tourism industry when very few
visitors come, stiff competition from unlicensed tour guides, lack of
coordination between industry stakeholders; and lack of government
support in terms of implementation of regulations and legislation that will
protect the rights of Baguio tour guides. As recommendations, the city
council must study the merits of Resolution No. 001 submitted by the
Association of Tour Guides of Baguio and Benguet, Inc. and make revisions
where necessary so that corresponding legislation can be passed. The
Local Government Unit must also control and monitor the number of front
liners in the city.

Key Words: Department of Tourism, Local Government, Stakeholders, Tour
Guide, Tour Guiding, Tourism, Travel Agency

I. INTRODUCTION

        In today’s busy world, traveling has emerged as an important
leisure activity that people undertake. Motives for travel come in a
variety of reasons, among them are for physical purposes or those
that are directly related to health, wellness and physical enjoyment.
These include rest, relaxation and recreation that would lead to
release of stress or lessening of tension from work. Others desire to
learn about places and their culture, while some enjoy meeting
people or visiting old friends and relatives. Self fulfillment can also
be achieved through traveling as it contributes to personal
development and even elevates social status (Cruz, 2006; Goeldner




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                                       Vol. 01 No.4         June 2009


1,2,3,4
    FacultyMembers, College of Hotel, Restaurant Management and
Tourism
& Ritchie, 2006; Claravall, 2008). A well traveled person has a wider
outlook in life; more often than not they are also looked up by others.
Travel, after all is considered a natural teacher and a bridge to
understanding of people.      It is not surprising therefore, that Cruz
(2006) describes traveling not as a want but a need.
          A tour becomes doubly enjoyable when there is a well-trained
tour guide who makes a place of interest alive with his commentaries
on almost anything: history, geography, architecture, food, customs,
legends or trivia. An average tourist may rely on guidebooks but the
knowledge that is imparted by a tour guide may not be found in any
brochure. Tour guides are much like teachers; they deliver
information about a destination in an accurate and engaging fashion.
Thus, Mancini (1996) mentions that eighty percent (80%) of tour
travelers who became part of a previous survey were extremely
satisfied in tours where “learning” was an important component.
They, too, were eager to share what they learned to their friends and
relatives.
          A tour guide is an individual who leads groups of tourists
around a town, museum or other tourist attraction.           The guide
provides correct and accurate information on the features, events
and history of the location; it is given therefore that he has broad
knowledge about the destination (Cruz, 1999). Claravall further
expounds that a tour guide is “. . . either an employee or affiliate of a
duly licensed travel and tour agency, guides tourists, both foreign
and domestic, for a fee, commission or any other form of lawful
remuneration on local sightseeing excursions. (p. 237).”
          Guides contribute greatly to the overall tourist experience
with their knowledge, skill and wit. A tour guide personalizes visit to
any destination through his commentary, keeping his narration light
and engaging so that his guests will thoroughly enjoy themselves.




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                                         Vol. 01 No.4        June 2009


Through    the    information      he   imparts,   he   fosters   greater
understanding among the locals and the tourists. He informs the
visitors about the local culture and environment. At the same time,
he cautions them on how they must conduct themselves in the
destination. This way, misconceptions about communities are
cleared up and tourists come to appreciate local culture and the
environment. Moreover, a tour guide takes care of the safety of his
guests while in the destination.
       A tour manager or tour escort, however is different from a
tour guide. While both carry administration duties and handle clients
booked with a tour operator, a tour manager is an individual who
accompanies the guests for the duration of the entire tour (from point
of origin to the destination and back) and manages the group’s
movements and activities. The tour guide on the other hand acts as
the host and operates only in one area or destination. He is with the
tour only for few hours, usually returning to his home each night
(Mancini, 1997; Cruz, 1999; Collins, 2000; Claravall, 2008).
       Tour guiding is a very satisfying occupation. Aside from
meeting many people, one can earn a good salary, not to mention
tips that satisfied guests will give. Andoy Dalimag, enthusiastically
shares his experience: “Being a tourist guide is fun and almost like
playing . . . It’s something I like doing because my town has a great
tourist attraction plus I get to meet and learn from the people I tour
(Gordon commends, 2008).” A tour guide is not uprooted from his
home and does not have the responsibility of overseeing to all the
needs of his clients, unlike that of a tour escort.        It also builds
character and challenges one’s skills.        Constant interaction with
different types of people tests one’s patience and decision making
skills (Mancini, 1996).
       Initially, tour guides were considered the orphans of the
tourism industry because they work either as freelancers or as
employees of a travel agency or a tour operator on a part time basis.
The seasonal nature of the industry makes steady employment
difficult. During unfavorable weather, very few people will travel so

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                                        Vol. 01 No.4        June 2009


tour guides look for other sources of income. Also, the lack of
professional standards and proper training of guides has worked
against     them   as   their   employers   refused   to   give   wages
commensurate to the work that they do.
          Today, however, prospects for tour guiding are looking up.
The rapid growth in the travel industry has enabled guiding to
become a year round activity. For example, destinations are trying
to create attractions, events and activities for the lean months to
reduce seasonality. In addition, tour guides themselves are uniting to
come up with higher standards of training and professionalism. In
the United States, the Professional Guides Association of America
was formed while in the country, the Guides Inc. Philippines was
organized to improve on tour guiding.
          Various tourism organizations and offices, travel agencies
and tour operators worldwide are also recognizing the role that tour
guides play in the industry. Laws are being enacted for the protection
of tour guides and companies are offering higher salaries and
regular employment (Cruz, 1999).
          The Department of Tourism (DOT), meanwhile, grants
accreditation to tourism-oriented and tourism related establishments,
including, tour guides. An accreditation is a certificate issued
indicating that the holder has complied with the standards set by the
department that will ensure the comfort, safety and convenience of
the tourist. In this manner, a tour guide accredited by the DOT is
supposed to be a competent and trained individual who will deliver
the best service to his clients. While accreditation is on a voluntary
basis, it increases the marketability of any establishment or
individual as the DOT carries it in all its promotional campaigns
worldwide.
          Baguio City stands out as one of the premier tourist
destinations in the country.       Initially conceived as a rest and
recreation camp for the Americans, this planned city designed by
American architect Daniel Burnham has become known as the
Summer Capital of the Philippines.          Blessed with an average

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                                        Vol. 01 No.4         June 2009


                   C,
temperature of 19.7° this mountain paradise situa ted 1524 meters
above sea level attracts a variety of tourists; both domestic and
international who want to experience the city’s charm (Bugnosen and
Humiding, 2003).
       The Department of Tourism-Cordillera Administrative Region
(DOT-CAR) claimed that there was a decrease in tourist arrivals in
2004 due to the meningococcemia scare. However, the city quickly
recovered as evidenced by increase in visitor arrivals in 2005, 2006,
and 2007. The DOT-CAR officials anticipate that there will still be a
steady increase of visitor arrivals in the future. Consequently, there
will be many tourists who will require the assistance of professional
and knowledgeable tour guides that can contribute to making their
stay in the city unforgettable. However, it would be of much interest
to determine if tour guiding is perceived as an important component
of the tourism industry of the city, hence this research.
       Tourism literature has emphasized that tour guides are
important players in the industry.        Travelers, themselves have
acknowledged that their experience has become more satisfying with
competent guides to bring them around destinations. Although, tour
guides they are not as visible as hotels, restaurants or travel
agencies, these individuals contribute their share to the tourism
industry. It is fervently hoped, therefore, that the results of this study
will improve the plight of tour guides in the city so that they will be
given the importance, recognition and support that is due them.
       In the planning and development of tourism, there are several
players that are involved. These are the public sector, the private
sector, the host community and the tourists themselves.            These
players may not get the same benefits but all of them must
cooperate and coordinate with each other.
       According to Mason (2003), the public sector is composed of
the government agencies at the local, regional, national and
international level that sets the policies, regulates, coordinates,
promotes and plans for tourism. The public sector is represented by
respondents     from     the    Department      of    Tourism-Cordillera

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                                      Vol. 01 No.4        June 2009


Administrative Region (DOT-CAR) office, the Baguio Tourism Office
(BTO) and the Committee on Tourism and Special Events at the
Baguio City Council; the private sector, specifically those from the
travel agencies; and the tour guides themselves.
       The private sector refers to the businesses that cater to
tourist needs as well as voluntary organizations, pressure groups,
non-government organizations and the media. Included here are the
various lodging facilities (hotels, inns, resorts, pension houses,
apartels, and others), food services, travel agencies, tour operators
and transportation groups. The people in the destination are the
members of the host community. Since tourism makes use of a
community’s resources, they must have a voice in the development
of their locality. Swarbrooke (1999) explains that community
involvement is part of the democratic process and can reduce
potential conflicts between tourists and members of the community.
       Each of these players may look at tourism- its impact and
development- from different points of view. The tourist, for instance,
may look at tourism and traveling as part of relaxation and will be
concerned with getting his money’s worth. A hotelier, on the other
hand will be concerned with satisfying the tourist to get profit.
Members of the community will welcome tourism because it gives
them employment. Thus, analysis of tourism and its components can
be done obtaining data from these key players.
       In the present study, therefore, it is best to explore the
thoughts of some of these key players to be able to come up with a
holistic picture of tour guiding in Baguio City. This method was used
by Kathleen Pond (1994) in her survey that explored the primary role
of tour guides. In the study, she interviewed three sets of
respondents: tour operators, the guides themselves and traveler.
Pond found out that each set of respondents had different
perceptions on the role of guides.




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                                          Vol. 01 No.4          June 2009


        “In response to the question about their primary role, guide
        responses included the following: maintaining control of a group,
        disseminating information, efficiently getting people to as many
        sights as possible, teaching history, representing a city in a
        favorable way. Tour operators view public relations as the most
        important role of a tour guide. Foreign visitors view guides as
        representatives of the region or country, as ambassadors and
        interpreters of the culture of a particular area (Cruz, 1999, p. 40).”

        Despite the differences in opinion of the respondents, the
research established that the guide’s role varies and that a
characteristic of a tour guide is his ability to carry out different duties
all at one time.
        In this research, data were obtained from three sources; the
public sector who will be represented by respondents from the
Department of Tourism-Cordillera Administrative Region (DOT-CAR)
office, the Baguio Tourism Office (BTO) and the Committee on
Tourism and Special Events at the Baguio City council; the private
sector, specifically those from the travel agencies; and the tour
guides themselves.
        The Department of Tourism-Cordillera Administrative Region
(DOT-CAR) is the regional office that is tasked to promote and
develop the Cordilleras as a prime tourist destination.            Its major
functions are (a) accreditation of tourism oriented and related
establishments, rest areas and home stays; (b) promotion of events,
activities and tourist destinations in the Cordilleras; (c) tourism
planning, project evaluation and monitoring; and d) coordination with
local government units in the adoption and implementation of the
DOT and CAR tourism master plans (DOT Accomplishment Report,
2005). This is also the agency that gives a 28-day training course
for tour guides in the Philippines. The Baguio Tourism Office (BTO),
on the other hand, is a division under the Office of the City
Administrator responsible for tourism concerns in Baguio.
        The function of the Committee on Tourism and Special
Events is to provide the legislative support to tourism programs and
projects in terms of resolutions and ordinances. This committee is
composed of three (3) members (The Revised Baguio Tourism
Code, 2004).

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                                          Vol. 01 No.4     June 2009


       Claravall (2008) defines a travel agency as “a commercial
establishment where a prospective traveler can secure information,
expert advice and make arrangements to travel by air, sea or land to
any part of the world (p.389).” Some travel agencies also offer tour
packages as part of their product. Travel agencies who can issue
international tickets are members of the International Air Transport
Association (IATA). Only Small World Travel and Tours is an IATA
member in Baguio.Agencies who have not had the opportunity to
become members of IATA have established an association called
the Network of Independent Travel Agencies (NAITAS), which has a
regional chapter in the City. On the other hand, a tour operator is a
company that operates assembled tour packages, made up of
transportation services, accommodation and meals, and guide or
tour escort services (Claravall, 2008).
       The research looked into the current status of tour guiding in
the City of Baguio.       Specifically, the following problems are
addressed:
       1.      How do the respondents perceive tour guiding in
terms of the following aspects:
               a. its role in the tourism industry;
               b. its role in Baguio City as a tourist destination; and
               c. as a profession?
       2.      How do the respondents assess the current state of
tour guiding in Baguio City in terms of:
               a. manpower:
               b. economic benefits;
               c. social benefits; and
               d. problems and difficulties?
       3.      What are the factors that have contributed to this
current state/situation as perceived by the respondents?


II. METHODOLOGY
       The researchers made use of the qualitative research
method.      According to Weaver and Oppermann (2000), using

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                                      Vol. 01 No.4        June 2009


qualitative research is one very important way of gaining an in-depth
insight into a certain phenomenon. Its purpose is to describe and
understand the situation, usually exploratory in nature by employing
a small number of participants (Social Science Research Institute,
2007). This type of research is otherwise called data enhancers
since it allows the elements of a problem to be seen more clearly. In
addition, qualitative research does not rely so much on numbers or
the use of statistical tools.
       Because there is very little that is known on the present state
of tour guiding in Baguio city, the researchers decided that
qualitative research would be the best design to use in the study.
Using triangulation wherein data was gathered from three different
sources, a complete and honest picture on the topic will emerge.
        Respondents of the study were limited to only eight (8) since
they were considered to be representative of the concerned sectors
and in-depth interviews were conducted with them. Description of
the respondents is as follows: there were three (3) respondents who
are from the public (government) sector. They come from office of
DOT-CAR, Baguio Tourism Office, and Committee on Tourism and
Special Events-City Council. The three (3) respondents from the
private sector came from Small World Travel and Tours, Gracious
Angeli International and Domestic Tours and Travel Agency, and
Noants Consultancy Travel and Tours/National Association of
Independent Travel agencies (NAITAS). The two (2) respondent–
tour guides are member of the Association of Tour Guides in Baguio
and Suburbs, Incorporation (ATGBSI).
         Of the eight (8) respondents, two (2) are managing directors,
one (1) supervising tourism operations officer, one (1) committee
chairman, one (1) operations manager, one (1) sales and marketing
supervisor, one (1) administrative aide 3, and one (1) tour
guide/statistician.
        The Manager/Owner of Noants Travel and Tours is also the
current Baguio Chapter President of the National Association of
Independent Travel Agencies (NAITAS).        In the case of the tour

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                                         Vol. 01 No.4        June 2009


guides, one is employed as a job order employee of the Baguio
Tourism Office doing tour guiding functions and the second is the
owner/manager of West Travel and Tours concurrently holding
positions as the president of the ATGBSI and the Baguio-Cordillera
Travel and Tours Association, Inc. (BCTTA).
       Travel agencies were chosen to represent the private sector
because    they    are   directly     responsible   for   making   travel
arrangements and/or tours and are expected to have more access to
tour guides. Small World Travel and Tours and Gracious Angeli
International and Domestic Tours and Travel Agency are two (2) of
the biggest travel agencies in the city, both are located along
Session Road, Baguio’s major artery and have branches in the City.
       The interview method was the primary instrument used in
gathering data.    Simply put, interviews are “conversations with a
purpose” (Jennings, 2001).          This would require a face to face
encounter between two people, one who usually asks questions and
the other who answers the questions. An interview guide was
prepared (see Appendix B) to direct the researchers. During the
preparation of the interview guide, the Head of the Research and
Development Office and other instructors of the college were
consulted for their comments and suggestions.
       Also, to validate the responses, the researchers conducted
observations, particularly on the activities of “front liners” in Burnham
Park, Victory Liner and Governor Pack Road bus terminals.
       A mock interview (pre testing) was conducted with CHRMT
faculty members who taught the subject Travel and Tour Operations
and Tour Guiding to determine where revisions could be made and
in preparation for the actual interviews.
       After finalizing the interview guide, the researchers set out to
make appointments with the respondents. However, only three (3)
respondents were interviewed last year because of the busy
schedules during the Christmas season. The other participants of
the research were interviewed from January 5-14, 2009. Each



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                                      Vol. 01 No.4        June 2009


interview lasted from one and a half (1 ½) to three (3) hours. Results
of the interview were analyzed and then implications were derived.


III. RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
       This portion presents the findings of the study. Responses
are examined separately, after which a synthesis is presented.
Discussion is sequenced according to the specific problems of the
research.
                 The Public Sector’s Perspective
       The perceptions of the respondents on tour guiding were
culled from their responses to the questions during the interview.
Based on the results, it appears that respondents A, B and C from
the government (public) sector agreed that a tour guide gives
information about a certain destination.    Aside from pointing out
places of interest, a tour guide must be able to explain to visitors
what they see, the background and history of the places, what
activities can be done and what they can buy. A good tour guide
must have stock knowledge about his destination and must be
abreast with current statistics, issues and events because these are
constantly changing. He must also be able to relate past events with
current ones so he must be a tireless researcher. In respondent A’s
own words:
       “A tour guide shows the way… he must know something about
       every thing.”

       Respondent C stressed that it is imperative that the guide be
trained, licensed and accredited by the Department of Tourism. For
Respondent B, a tour guide must be conversant in Filipino and
English.
       A tour guide is the front liner of the tourism industry as he
represents the hospitality of a place. He is an extension employee of
the Department of Tourism because he is able to inform tourists not
only about a destination but also about tourism development in the
entire country. With what he does, a tour guide is able to convince
people to come back or visit other places of interest. In essence, a


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                                             Vol. 01 No.4          June 2009


tour guide performs a bigger and more important role for the industry
and     Baguio   City,    in   particular:    marketing     and    promotions.
Respondent C aptly stated that tour guides are:
                 “. . . ambassadors of the city giving accurate account
                  of the history, culture, people. . . he is so much a part
                 of the experience of the tourist.”

         As a profession, respondent A opined that tour guiding can
be a lucrative as it is possible to get a regular income from it.             This
was disputed by respondent B who believed that tour guiding is only
a short term occupation.
         On the present number of tour guides in Baguio, both
respondents gave different answers.                According to the DOT
respondent:
                 “Since we are only in charge of accreditation, I
                 know that there are only two accredited tour guides
                 for this year for Baguio. But we got statistics that
                 for Baguio and Benguet, there are 72 people who
                 act as guides but they are not licensed.”
         On the other hand, the Baguio Tourism Office representative
said:
        “There are 200 people who took our trainings and were issued
         identification cards by our office who sometimes work as tour
         guides . . .”

         Tour guiding can be economically viable because one can
earn a lot from it. This is aside from tips from satisfied tourists or
commissions from establishments. The DOT can be of assistance by
referring them to visitors who need assistance. But because of the
seasonal nature of tourism, if a tour guide would really want
permanent employment, he must have linkages with a travel agency
who will hire him on a regular basis. Respondent C bluntly said that
in Baguio, tour guiding cannot be a full time job because there is no
work for them.
         Interpersonal, communication, research and other skills are
developed in tour guiding because one gets to meet people from
other countries and find themselves in different situations.
         When asked to make an assessment on the status of tour
guiding in the city, Respondent A was convinced that the scenario is


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                                       Vol. 01 No.4       June 2009


bleak because of the lack of accredited tour guides who are qualified
to bring visitors around.
       For respondent B, the lack of cooperation from travel
agencies or tour operators from Manila poses a very big problem for
tour guiding.   When tour groups come to Baguio, they are not
properly turned over to the local guides. Instead, the tour escort who
accompanies the group doubles up as the guide even if he is not
familiar with Baguio. Again, there may be wrong information given
out but more importantly, this would mean less work and less income
for the local guides. This is unlike In Ifugao, where tour escorts are
required to pass guiding duties to the trained mountain guides who
conduct the tour while in the destination.
       On the possible factors that have contributed to the dismal
state of tour guiding, the respondents gave the following reasons:
   •   The month long training given by the DOT and its fees deter
       interested individuals to attend the seminar.     Moreover, a
       candidate for tour guiding must pass the written and practical
       (hand on) exams.
   •   Front liners have already taken the task of guiding visitors
       around Baguio even if they are not qualified to do tour
       guiding. Aside from giving out wrong information about the
       city, they can give out a bad impression as some of them
       short change the tourists. It is possible, he said, that there
       seems to be a wrong impression on what a tour guide is.
       Front liners may presume that as long as one can point out
       places that qualify one to be a tour guide already. Front liners
       even offer their services at a cheaper price so visitors agree
       to hire their services further damaging the tour guiding
       profession.
   •   The Local Government of Baguio has tolerated the presence
       of the front liners. Because the City could not control their
       number, they instead gave trainings on the history of Baguio,
       proper grooming, courtesy and others in the hope that they



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                                          Vol. 01 No.4           June 2009


          would give good service to Baguio visitors. This, however,
          does not qualify front liners as tour guides.
    •     The Baguio Tourism Office is only a division under the City
          Administrators Office of the City Government given a limited
          budget of 1.8 M for its operations and marketing programs.
          Moreover, they only have three (3) regular employees and a
          handful of job-order personnel or volunteers. There are many
          plans which cannot be implemented because of limited
          budget and manpower.        Ironically, one of the respondents
          lamented:
                 “Tourism is a very important industry in Baguio but the local
                 government does not give appropriate importance to it.”


          With their duties and responsibilities, BTO employees are
spread out too thinly and are unable to monitor activities of front
liners.
          The private sector and other stakeholders have their own
agenda. Tourism establishments, like hotels or travel agencies, do
not provide support for tour guides as they contact anyone even if
they are not trained, registered or accredited because front liners
advertise their establishment. It is now about having more business
than giving of service.
          Respondent C does not see a bright future for tour guides
either because there is no available work for them. Baguio City, she
remarked is so small a place that visitors can go around in half a
day. Furthermore, since this is a prime tourist destination that is very
popular, there has been so much information disseminated in guide
books and in the internet. Visitors can just get all of this information
and have a good time without hiring the services of a tour guide.
          When asked for their recommendations, Respondent A
suggested that more guides be trained by the DOT, instead of
relying on the services of front liners and more cooperation between
private and public sectors. Respondent B discussed their plan to
organize a central office in Burnham Park where tourists can register
and licensed tour guides be recommended to them.

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          This plan, however, was disputed by respondent C who
declared that “it would be very difficult to implement this because
there are so many entry points in Baguio City, unlike in Palawan or
Bohol”.      Besides, Baguio guides cannot have sole exclusivity in
guiding tourists around the city because of free enterprise. Tourists
must have a choice as to who will guide them or whether they would
like to have guides. Rather, she suggested that Baguio develop new
tourist attractions and activities where services of the guides will be
needed.
            Appropriate legislation can be passed as long as it is in
consonance with the Constitution. She stressed, too that the City
Council will be willing to consider revisions on the Tourism Code,
specifically on tour guides, if copies of the similar ordinances in other
LGUs can be shown to them.
                 The Private Sector’s Perspective
          Respondent D gave a very simple definition of tour guiding- it
is knowing the vicinity of a place and its history. This concept was
expounded further by respondent E who explained that tour guiding
is much like story telling, it is something that you know by heart and
would like to share with others. A tour guide exudes the passion for
what he is doing and Information comes out naturally and very
spontaneously.       Moreover, he must “have compassion of the
industry and a moral responsibility for the safety and security of the
tourist.”
          A tour guide must be very knowledgeable about his area. For
example, a Baguio local guide is expected to know about Baguio and
the Cordilleras, its history, its people and other information that will
be of interest to the tourist. In case he does not have the answer to
questions on hand, he must be resourceful enough to get the
answers. Aside from knowing the duties and responsibilities (e.g.
trouble shooter), a tour guide must be smart and have a pleasing
personality, flexible, patient and articulate. Respondent D shared
that the knowledge of the native dialect is very important especially
when haggling for local products. Respondent F refused to give her


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insights because, according to her, their agency is just a ticketing
office and does not offer local tours.     If they have tour groups, their
agency passes it to the existing tour operators in the City.
       Tour guides bring destinations closer to people whenever
they share information about the culture and places of interest. They
are very much part of the tourism industry because they contribute to
a satisfying travel experience. While some travelers can go around a
destination on their own, some find it more convenient to have a tour
guide who can ensure their safety and security.
       Ideally, the presence of trained and registered guides will
help boost the tourism industry because satisfied visitors will share
the experience with their family and friends. Respondent D
mentioned that if there are more visitors then there is more income
for the destination. Respondent E, however had a different take on
the economic benefits of tour guides to the City. It was her opinion
that tour guides in Baguio today contribute very little to the economy
because legitimate guides who pay taxes are very few. Those whom
she termed as “fly by night” guides who abound in the city do not
even pay taxes to the government because they do not have working
permits nor are they accredited by the Department of Tourism.
       According to Respondent E, all tour guides must be
professionals if it is to become a gainful profession. In her
estimation, about 99.99% of guides are free lancers meaning they
are not permanently employed by any travel agency or tour operator.
They are hired on a per tour basis.         Respondent D viewed tour
guiding as a fun but tiring profession.
       Unlike Respondent E who made an educated guess that
there are less than ten (10) trained and licensed guides in the city,
Respondent D did not have any idea at all.               She made the
observation that the existing guides only have the experience but not
the training or the college degrees.        In fact, their agency has a
regular employee who is tapped to guide visitors even if he is not
licensed.



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                                           Vol. 01 No.4           June 2009


          Respondent E who has been in the industry for more than
twelve years was certain that tour guiding can be a lucrative job that
brings in much money. It also gives a sense of fulfillment because
one is able to touch the lives of other people with the stories of
places.     It lets one make new friends and experience being with
other people.        Unfortunately, this sentiment is not shared by
Respondent D who does not see much social and economic benefits
from tour guiding. Given a chance, this is not a career that she
would recommend to other people.
          The following are the perceived problems of tour guiding in
the city:
          1. The presence of unprofessional tour guides is slowly
destroying the integrity of tour guiding. Respondent E says:
          “These “fly by night” guides can be anyone. The Mabuhay
          Host (meaning the front liners) can be anyone in Baguio who
          can give information in a hospitable manner but this does not
          have anything to do with tour guiding. Look at what they are
          wearing . . . they have no pride of place. . .they are all
          scrambling to get visitors . . . they give a bad image for
          Baguio . . . You do not promote second class things in
          tourism. In addition, the income that should be going to the
          registered guides and in turn to the City Government in the
          form of taxes is lost because the so called guides do not
          remit anything to the city”.

          2. Tourism stakeholders in the city do not work hand in
hand to professionalize tour guiding.            Each of the different
sectors has their own agenda. For example, even hotels link
up with the front liners so that visitors will be ushered to their
establishment.       In   exchange,      front    liners    are   given
commissions.       On the other hand, the local government is
unable to control the number of front liners who offer tour
guiding services nor are they required to get the proper training
or license.
       3. The lack of legislation that will protect and professionalize
tour guiding has been cited as one factor that has back the growth of
this important linkage in the tourism industry.            Respondent E, in
particular has also voiced her frustration on the lack of action on the
part of the Department of Tourism in controlling the front liners.

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                                         Vol. 01 No.4        June 2009


While she is aware that the local government has the power to
develop tourism in Baguio today, she believes that the DOT should
step up in concerns that will demean tourism in a destination.
        In light of these problems, Respondents D and E made these
suggestions: (a) Professionalizing tour guiding by giving the proper
training to everyone who would like to become guides or to those
who are already acting as guides; (b) Proper credentials and
licensing must be made mandatory; (c) Local Government must
design legislations or regulating systems and implement these to
support tour guiding such as requiring all tourist buses to pay an
environmental fee and get the services of a licensed guide; d) Giving
of higher pay and incentives to tour guides.
The Tour Guides’ Perspective
      A tour guide, according to Respondent G, is a person who
brings a tour group to a destination, pointing our places of interest
while giving out information. He also takes into consideration the
safety and security of his guests. Respondent H, on the other hand,
described a tour guide as:
        “. . . like an instructor, a watchdog, a commissioner. He guides
        people around for a fee. A tour guide must follow the 10
        commandments of tour guiding, must have endless patience. He
        always smiles and gives positive commentaries. He always does
        research to update himself with current issues.”

      The respondents agreed that tour guides are important to the
tourism industry because if they are not there, tourists will not know
where to go or what products to buy.            With his commentaries,
tourists become more interested in the place and come to
understand and appreciate the native culture. In essence, what a
tour guide does is to market and promote the destination.
Respondent H called tour guides the “nerve center” of the industry.
Because tour guides work hand in hand with travel agencies/tour
operators who prepare tour packages, Respondent G pointed out
that without them, the tour will not be facilitated.
        Tour guides are essential to Baguio City because it is a
tourist destination, Aside from their promotion function, their


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                                        Vol. 01 No.4         June 2009


presence makes a big difference in the experience of visitors. It
was, therefore, a surprise to learn that there are only eight (8)
licensed tour guides in the city, and only two (2) of them are
accredited by the Department of Tourism.
       Both respondents agree that tour guiding can be a gainful
profession especially during peak season. A licensed tour guide is
paid Php 1,800.00 per day, not to mention tips and commissions. But
guiding is more than economics because one gets to meet other
people. Respondent H mentioned that he gets commendations from
governors and invitations from foreigner visitors to visit them. Some
guides have also gotten married to foreign nationals that they met on
tours. They reminisced about Baguio before the 1990 earthquake
when Hyatt Terraces still existed. According to them, their work was
very lucrative because they had tourists to bring around everyday.
However, today, that is not possible anymore. In fact, all licensed
guides in the city have other jobs; guiding is just a sideline.
       Basically, the dilemma of tour guides in Baguio, commented
Respondent G is that there are no more jobs for them. This is so
ironic because Baguio becomes home to thousands of tourists
during the peak season. In Subic, Cebu. Sagada and Banaue, tour
guiding is recognized as a source of gainful employment and
supported by the local government.       Seasonality was cited as one
reason, but there are other factors that have led to this sad situation,
among them:
       The presence of uncontrolled number of front liners who
act as tour guides even if they do not have the qualifications.
These individuals offer their services to visitors at the lower fee
thereby depriving licensed guides of work. In fact, he says:

               “Mas malakas nga ang kita ng frontliners kesa sa amin. Sa
               palagay n’yo dadami ba sila ng ganyan kung walang
               trabaho. Sa me Victory Liner nga, tatlong asosasyon na
               sila,600 na ang nanduon (Frontliners earn more than us.
               Why do you think their number has increased if there was
               no work? There are three associations in Victory Liner
               (terminal) already with 600 members)”


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                                        Vol. 01 No.4        June 2009


        Aside from this, Respondent G fears for the safety of the
tourist because they might be deceived by these people. This can
lead to bad experiences for the tourist. Front liners recommend
hotels of their choice or transient houses that are not licensed by the
government because they get commissions from them. Respondent
G gave the case of the owner of Tepeyac Hotel located along
Leonard Wood Road who was met by a front liner in the terminal.
When he asked to be brought to his hotel, the front liner, unaware of
who he was, retorted that Tepeyac Hotel already burned to the
ground.
          Front liners do not pay any fees to the city government unlike
the licensed guides, which prompted Respondent H to ask whether
the government does not need money. Registered guides are so
disheartened by this that some of them do not want to renew their
licenses anymore.
        Travel agencies/tour operators from Manila do not get
services of local Baguio guides. The respondent guides talked
about tour escorts from Manila who bring their groups to Baguio and
do the guiding themselves even if they are not familiar with the city.
This leads to misinformation and even bad publicity because the
escorts could not explain the culture, history and even issues that
confront the city.
        Lack of coordination between tourism stakeholders.
Hotels and travel agencies do not support Baguio guides by passing
on their guests.     Some have an in-house guide or contact other
people to do tour guiding services.        DOT-CAR employees also
dabble in tour guiding even if they are not supposed to. The Baguio
Convention and Visitors Bureau (BCVC), the City’s official marketing
and promotional arm, does not even coordinate with the ATGBSI
when there are tour groups requiring their assistance.
        Lack of legislation that supports tour guides and protect
their rights. ATGBSI has submitted to the City Council a Resolution
(Appendix C) that would protect the rights of tour guides which in the
long run would benefit the city government, tourism establishments

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                                              Vol. 01 No.4             June 2009


and the tourists. This resolution, however, has not been acted upon
by the City Council.
        In the light of the above, the tour guides strongly recommend
that their resolution be passed into law by the city council. While this
will not solve all of their problems, they are convinced that this pave
the way for the City Government to recognize their contributions to
the industry. As Respondent G puts it:
        “. . . this will just be putting things in the right places”

In addition, front liners should be required to get the proper
documentation so that they can pay taxes to the government. They
can be monitored and controlled if the tourism police will be activated
and will do their jobs.
                             A Meeting of Minds
        Each of the respondents has described a tour guide in
various ways but they have all agreed that tour guides: a) educate
the tourist by giving accurate information about a destination’s
people, history’ culture and places of interest; b) takes care of the
safety and security of tourists ; c) works hand in hand with a travel
agency or a tour operator; and, d) is very much part of the tourist
experience.
        Despite coming from different sectors, all of the study’s
respondents accede to the fact that tour guiding (and tour guides, for
that matter) is an important ingredient in the tourism industry, in
general and Baguio City, in particular.               Tour guiding brings the
tourist product to visitors by giving accurate information on where to
go, what to buy and what to do in destinations. Visitors do not only
get to know destinations, they also begin to understand and
appreciate other cultures. Furthermore, tour guides perform another
very   important      function,     that    of   promoting       and    marketing
destinations.    With their witty commentaries, they contribute to a
satisfying tourist experience so that when visitors go home, they are
encouraged to come back or tell their family and friends about the
destination.



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                                        Vol. 01 No.4         June 2009


      “As a tour guide, you occupy a key position in the promotion of this
       world wide industry ...you become the bridge between nations, you
       can promote friendly contact, rapport and understanding between
       peoples “(Tour Guiding Primer, 2008, p. 6).

       Tour guiding is a lucrative profession where one can get a
high salary, not to mention tips from satisfied tourists and
commissions from establishments. Respondents who have been
exposed to tour guiding or have been in close contact with tour
guides admit that one gets economic and social benefits.
       Tour guides, according to Cruz (1999) and Mancini (1996)
are paid hourly rates depending on the standards set within the
organization or region. Even if income varies, it has been established
that a tour guide who delivers an engaging and almost perfect tour,
earns more.
       According to the respondent guides, both members of the
Association of Tour Guides in Baguio and Suburbs, Inc. (ATGBSI),
there are only eight (8) active, licensed tour guides in Baguio City.
Of this number, only two (2) are accredited by the Department of
Tourism-Cordillera Administrative Office. The remaining six (6)
respondents were not aware of this number probably because tour
guiding is not part of the services they offer. The DOT-CAR, on the
other hand is only concerned with training of guides and
accreditation.
       Ideally, there are many economic and social benefits of tour
guiding. It can be a source of gainful employment like in European
countries where standards for tour guiding are stringent. However,
in the case of Baguio local guides, the earnings they get is not
enough to sustain their needs, thus tour guiding is just considered a
part time job. Socially, though, guiding gives them an opportunity to
meet people from different culture and walks of life. Some of them
get commendations and invitations to visit other places, while others
got married to clients that they met during tours.
       The present situation of tour guiding in Baguio is dismal and
prospects are dim. Basically, the problem is the lack of work
opportunities for guides, a very surprising scenario considering that

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                                      Vol. 01 No.4        June 2009


the city is a very popular tourist destination. Unlike in European
countries and in domestic destinations like Palawan, Bohol and
Cebu, where tour guides abound, Baguio City does not seem to
recognize the contribution of guides in the industry. It is because of
this fact that there are only eight (8) remaining guides from the
original forty (40) who were trained by the DOT-CAR in 2003.
Likewise. this is the reason why only two (2) volunteered for
accreditation.
       This situation, according to the respondents is aggravated by
the following factors:

   •   The seasonal nature of tourism in Baguio affects work of
       guides. During the lean season (rainy season), there are less
       tourists who come so they too have less income.
       Tourism literature describes the industry as seasonal in
nature (Cruz, 1999; Goeldner, 2006). But destinations are able to
circumvent this by using strategies such as diversifying the market,
developing new attractions and offering special promotions or
lowering the price of travel components (Murphy, 2008).

   •   Uncontrolled presence of front liners or “fly by night” guides
       who also offer their services for a lesser fee. These do not
       only refer to those who meet and greet visitors in bus
       terminals, they are also taxi drivers or vendors offering
       transient houses in public parks or major road networks.
       Front liners or “fly by night” guides do not have the proper
       training for tour guiding thus they give the wrong information
       and even the wrong impression to tourists. Sometimes, even
       the safety of the visitors is compromised. Moreover, since
       they are illegal, they do not do remit taxes to the City
       Government unlike the licensed guides who faithfully pay
       fees required of them. This has affected the morale of the
       local guides to the point that majority of them have left the
       profession for other jobs.



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                                         Vol. 01 No.4         June 2009


   •   Travel agencies/tour operators from Manila do not contract
       the services of guides from Baguio. It is the tour escort who
       accompanies the group that assumes the role of guiding even
       if he is not familiar with Baguio. Again, this can be translated
       as lost income for the City because these tour escorts will not
       pay taxes to the government.
   •   There is lack of cooperation between tourism stakeholders
       like hotels and travel agencies.      Instead of recommending
       licensed tour guides, they prefer to hire or subcontract front
       liners or unlicensed guides. Furthermore, even some
       employees of the DOT-CAR undertake tour guiding activities
       during their free time.
   •   Lack of legislation from the City Government that will protect
       the rights of tour guides and support the profession. This
       specifically refers to enactment of an ordinance that will
       require travel agencies or tour operators to link up with local
       guides.
   •   Inability of the Local Government to control unlicensed tour
       guides and front liners who also make tour guiding a side
       line. Respondent C was very emphatic in saying they should
       be caught, but no one has been apprehended so far.
       In 2005, Pender and Sharpley discussed the government’s
role in tourism development.             Among these are planning,
coordination,    enactment   of   laws    and   regulation.     National
government gives the direction for tourism in any destination; its
different levels makes its medium term and short term plans based
on the national mandate. Tourism stakeholders must be coordinated
through the efforts of government.          Legislation supports and
regulates tourism activities, for without this development will not be
achieved.
       The Local Government Code of 1991 has given tourism
development powers to local governments, thus it is the obligation of
the City Government to put control measures in place.



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                                       Vol. 01 No.4       June 2009


   •   Unlicensed or “fly by night” guides find the tour guiding
       training of the Department of Tourism very long and rigid so
       they refuse to take it.
       Tour guiding is more than knowing how to point to places.
The training given by the Department of Tourism prepares potential
guides to be professionals.        As such, standards have to be
maintained. Compared to other countries, the DOT training is not as
rigid. For example, in Great Britain which has one of the oldest,
strictest and most respected systems for guides, they are required to
undergo extensive 320 hours coursework that varies in course and
length throughout the British Isle. Guides must also pass all their
written and oral examinations (Cruz, 1999).
   •   Baguio City is very small and there is so much information
       available for visitors. Visitors can just go around the City on
       their own armed with brochures and          maps. Because of
       this, tour guides are not a priority anymore.
       Tour guiding, like all jobs is not without problems, but the
situation in Baguio is both interesting and unusual because the City
continuous to be a favorite tourist destination.

IV. CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

       Based on the findings of the study , the following are the
derived conclusions:
       1. Tour guiding is perceived by all of the respondents as
important to the tourism industry.       Tour guides provide a link
between tourists and destinations by giving information that
eventually helps in understanding and appreciation of cultures.
       2. The situation of tour guiding in the city is dismal and grim
because there is very little work for tour guides.     There are only
eight (8) active and licensed tour guides in the City who work on a
part time basis.
       3,   The factors that have led to this predicament are the
following: the seasonal nature of the tourism industry when very
few visitors come; stiff competition from unlicensed tour guides, front


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                                      Vol. 01 No.4        June 2009


liners or “fly by night” guides, travel agencies/tour operators from
Manila and even DOT-CAR employees who moonlight as tour
guides; lack of coordination between industry stakeholders; lack of
Local Government support in terms of implementation of regulations
and legislation that will protect the rights of Baguio guides. The size
of Baguio and the abundance of available information about the City
in print/broadcast media and the internet are also contributory
factors.
       Tour guiding has always been identified as an important
component of the tourism industry. Countries worldwide and other
local government units in the Philippines have recognized their
contribution to the industry. The situation in Baguio, however, has
stood out as a glaring exemption.         Despite the fact that the
respondents have acknowledged their importance to the City, the
factors that have led to the slow demise of tour guising has not been
addressed. The following recommendation, therefore are presented
by the researchers in the hope that something can be done to
improve the situation.
       1. Create new and exciting attractions and packages that will
require the services of tour guides. The Committee on Tourism and
Special Events is currently working on the “One Barangay, One
Product” project which will showcase products and activities of
selected barangays in the City. This will create livelihood, empower
the people and make them participants in tourism development.
Also, they are linking up with Texas Instruments and other
companies in the Export Processing Zone to open their facilities for
industrial tours. Other activities can be done such as rapelling in
Kennon Road or creation of an Igorot Village where visitors can
experience “living like the natives”. All of these can create jobs for
tour guides even during the rainy season.
       2. The City Council must study the merits of Resolution No.
001 submitted by the Association of Tour Guides of Baguio and
Benguet, Inc. and make revisions where necessary so that
corresponding legislation can be passed.      The claims of the tour

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                                        Vol. 01 No.4         June 2009


guides are legitimate and must not be ignored. After all, this will
even be for the benefit of Baguio City. Other local government units
like Bohol, Cebu, Palawan, Sagada have ordinances that are pro-
tour guide and these can be adopted, too. Admittedly, there will be
many difficulties (e.g. numerous entry points to the City, negative
feedback from front liners and others) but it can be done if Baguio
would like retain its stronghold as a tourist destination.
        3. The Local Government Unit must also control and monitor
the number of front liners in the City. While they assist tourists,
sometimes they become nuisance because of their number. Some
of them are not even registered and do not pay the necessary taxes.
Not only do they deprive tour guides of work, even hotels are
affected because they recommend unlicensed transient houses.
        4. Tourism stakeholders must get together and do some
serious business.    Tourism is a system that requires cooperation
from its component parts. Identify one vision for Baguio and work
from there. If other LGUs have done it, why not Baguio? If another
Tourism Summit is necessary, then so be it, but inputs must become
realities.
        5. To professionalize tour guiding, there must be mandatory
training, licensing and accreditation of tour guides. Front liners who
are interested must undertake the necessary trainings, too.
        6. Activation of tourism police who will strictly implement the
policies of tourism in the City and exercise control over front liners.
        7. Make the Baguio Tourism Office a separate department
with the corresponding manpower and budget.              Tourism is the
lifeblood of the City and must be given closer attention and
importance.
        8. The researchers feel that this research has just uncovered
the tip of the iceberg. The tourism industry is large and varied and
many studies can still be conducted. Thus, it is recommended that
another research be conducted to validate the results of this study,
using a different set of respondents, for instance the front liners,
hotels or transient houses and the tourists.

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                                      Vol. 01 No.4        June 2009




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