Subic training more tour guides to keep up with cruise ship arrivals
Posted 5 years ago
The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) has started training employees to help in guiding the growing number of tourists from large cruise ships that now frequently call in this free port.
SBMA Chairman and Administrator Wilma T. Eisma said that the agency, in cooperation with the Department of Tourism, rolled out a Basic Tourist Reception and Guiding Program to keep up with the rising demand for more tour guides.
An SBMA tour guide snaps pictures of disembarked tourists from the MS Ovation of the Seas cruise ship
“So far, the SBMA had trained three batches of new tour guides since February this year when cruise ships began regularly plying the Subic Bay Freeport route,” Eisma said.
“With each cruise ship bringing in from 2,000 to 5,000 tourists at each port call, and with about 20 cruise ship arrivals scheduled this year, we really need all the help we can get to manage this unprecedented influx of visitors,” she also said.
The employee-tour guides will be on-call for the part-time work. “They won’t be earning huge amounts of money, as they are doing it out of ‘malasakit’ for the SBMA,” Eisma explained.
An SBMA tour guide shepherds newly-arrived cruise ship passengers during a tour of the Subic Bay Freeport
The SBMA tour guides are picked from various departments that serve as frontline customer-service units and are asked to undergo a two-day training program to enhance their oral communication skills.
The training includes delivery of spiel and a mock tour where trainees are given situations that required fast thinking and effective delivery, said SBMA tourism head Jem Camba.
Camba said that with each cruise ship arrival, a minimum of 20 tour guides are called on for duty. Bigger cruise ships like the MS Ovation of the Seas, the biggest in operation in Asia, require around 45 tour guides who would accompany Mandarin-speaking interpreters assigned to tour buses.
Tourists listen to an SBMA tour guide’s spiel on local culture during a visit at the Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar museum and heritage site in Bagac, Bataan
The SBMA tour guides, who are well-versed on Subic Bay and its environs, are tasked to provide precise information about local tourism destinations that will be passed on by interpreters to the mostly Chinese passengers of cruise ships arriving here.
Thompson Gatdula, an SBMA employee-tour guide, described the work as fun and educational.
“I get to know more about other people and their culture, as they get to know more about the Subic Bay Freeport and other local communities,” said Gatdula, who had accompanied tourists to as far as the Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar, an open-air museum and heritage site in Bagac, Bataan.
“We’re doing this out of ‘malasakit’ for the SBMA and the country. Whatever we do here would reflect on us as Filipinos, so we have to be our best each time we interact with cruise ship visitors,” he added.
Like Gatdula, the on-call tour guides get a message each time their services are needed. This gives the full itinerary for the day and identifies the areas that the tourists are scheduled to visit.
“The job usually entails working and being on the road the whole day, but believe me, it is worth it,” said Gatdula. “When you make visitors smile, when you make them fall in love with the Subic Bay Freeport, that gives you a deep sense of accomplishment.”
A total of 13 cruise ship arrivals have been recorded in Subic Bay since February this year, and seven more arrivals are scheduled until October 2018. Eisma said that by then, an army of SBMA tour guides would be ready to make international cruise ship passengers appreciate Subic Bay Freeport and the Philippines more.