According to Provincial Tourism Officer Carmel Bonifacio-Garcia, the familiarization tour of 45 travel agents belonging to the Philippine Travel Agencies Association (PTAA) last week ended with positive comments from the visitors.
The travel agents were reportedly impressed with what Catanduanes has to offer in terms of tourist attractions, as they often associate the island province with typhoons.
While the local government units here as well as their partner national agencies are working hard in support of the revived tourism development program, there remain some roadblocks and minor deficiencies.
At the NAIA Terminal 4 (the old Manila domestic terminal), it took some time to check in the 45 visitors that when the other passengers took their turn at the counter, it was already boarding time.
Inside the jetprop that currently flies to Virac, the visitors were apparently slightly bothered by the cramped accommodations, compared to the jets they are used to in other routes.
The contractor of the airport renovation-turned-rehab has yet to start work on the damaged facility that was supposed to be inaugurated last January. With the summer already underway, the tourism office has yet to be given space for their desk that would handle queries from first-time visitors to the island.
This was demonstrated by a young couple who arrived last Sunday, saw the big tarpaulin sign trumpeting the various sights in the 11 towns, and were left wondering how far the advertised attractions were or how they would get there. It is not certainly helpful to be given only the pictures but not the details of the destination. It would not be farfetched to speculate that the couple may have encountered overcharging tricycle drivers on their journey.
It may be recalled that a few years back, the Wong administration oriented tricycle drivers at the airport and ports to be “tourism-friendly.” Being tourism-friendly means the tricycle driver needs to be courteous and respectful of their passengers, and, most important, charge the correct fares.
Once the airport repair has been completed, perhaps the provincial government could include among the services of the tourism desk the handing out of cards listing approved fares for tricycles, taxis or vans for the different tourist routes. The cards could also include a hotline which the arriving tourist could call for information or any complaint.
In the past years, the municipality of Virac has promoted its “Burak” festival, with street dancers even winning in a regional event with their flowery attire.
What is strange, though, is that one can hardly see colorful flowers in bloom once you arrive in town. With many of its programs and projects geared towards enhancing the tourism prospects of the capital town, the administration of Mayor Samuel Laynes should encourage barangays to grow flowering plants along roadsides, in plazas and selected public gardens if it wants to keep the “burak” tag.
In many Asian countries, colorful flowers in public places are natural attractions for tourists who love to take selfie pictures. The town can do the same alongside its backyard vegetable production program.
Former Tribune columnist Ros Manlangit’s weekly, Catanduanes Today, came out last week with the shabu lab case as its main story. But what interested some commenters on social media was its picture of the Palta shabu lab. The photo was that of the fully-set up shabu lab in Arayat Pampanga.
The Palta shabu lab was never the mega-lab that some politicians are making it to be, as only a small room of equipment was most likely operating before authorities raided the facility.
The picture was probably a honest mistake of one such politician who wished to make a mountain out of a molehill. Sometimes trying too much can hurt.
Incidentally, the DOJ has yet to issue the results of its probe into the matter, three months after it took over the case.
THE DRUG SUSPECT. A man was in court on a charge of selling drugs. To determine the exact quantity of illegal substance allegedly sold, the judge asked the prosecutor how many grams there were in an ounce. While both attorneys checked their notes, the defendant, who had yet to enter a plea, announced helpfully: “There are 28.3 grams in an ounce, your honour.”
At this, his lawyer leaned over to him and said: “I think you might as well plead guilty.”