By Keith Anthony S. Fabro
Agri-tourism powerhouse Brooke’s Point is gearing up its tourism stakeholders and attractions as part of its bid to welcome up to 30,000 tourists this 2019, or higher than last year’s 20,000.
Town tourism chief Arlene Piramide said they are currently focusing on improving their existing tourist sites and developing a potential one, as well as on reactivating community tour guides.
“Our focus now really is on the newly launched AgriWorld, and also on the planned Hidden Park. We also have our Sabsaban Falls and Eco Park that are already up and running,” she shared in an interview Wednesday, March 20.
The municipal government inaugurated on March 19 its flagship agri-tourism site, AgriWorld, in Sitio Lada, Barangay Pangobilian. A 15-minute drive from the town center, this 6-hectare site offers visitors a taste of farm life.
Still in planning stage, Hidden Park is a proposed recreational area inside a mangrove forest in Bgy. Calasaguen, which is around 30 minutes away from the poblacion.
“The plan is to build a canopy walk in a way it will not destroy mangroves. Some of the activities tourists could enjoy there are mud crab trapping, boating and bird watching,” she said.
As to capacitating tourism frontliners, Piramide said her office already trained over 70 guides on basic tour guiding. Tricycle drivers, she added, were also oriented on customer service to handle the guests well.
“We have organized them already, but they went inactive, so we will reactivate them. This year we’re also scheduled to conduct advanced tour guiding,” the tourism officer said.
With regards to handling excursionists or those who visit the town’s tourist spots for less than a day, Piramide said her office will advise the tour guides to keep reminding them to bring their trash when leaving any destinations. In 2018, the town recorded around 30,000 excursionists.
As part of the ongoing weeklong celebration of 14th Pista Y Ang Kaniyog’n (Coconut Festival), the municipal government organized a tourism awareness seminar for key tourism stakeholders on March 20.
The seminar had Regional Director Danilo Intong of the Department of Tourism MIMAROPA as the guest speaker. Intong provided the participants an overview on regional tourism industry and further shared the tourism department’s mandates.
Meanwhile, Piramide said her office is looking at introducing the homestay program in town to augment the limited number of accommodations. Homestays are houses owned by locals where visitors could stay while in a particular town or city.
“The presence of homestays is crucial in towns like us who don’t have big hotels, but only lodging houses. We will coordinate with the provincial tourism office to assist us in organizing a training for qualified residential house owners who are interested to join in the homestay program,” she said.
Currently, Brooke’s Point has 18 operating lodging houses with a total of 228 rooms. However, she said these are not enough when the town is hosting big sports events that draw throngs of tourists. “So it’s better if we have homestays here,” she said.
Asked how she wants locals to treat tourists, she said: “We should let our guests experience tourism. Being hospitable is important. They have to feel they’re welcome and well taken care of.”