By Joel Pinaroc
For many tourists visiting the Philippines, a room with a reliable and fast access to the Internet might be more important than a bath tub or even hot water.
This is just one of the trends cited by the Department of Tourism (DOT) in conference that the agency held together with the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) in Butuan City recently.
According to Department of Tourism assistant secretary Myra Paz Abubakar, Internet access has become very important for tourists and one of the ripple effects of this is the need for more service providers, particularly in the country’s most popular tourist spots.
Abubakar said these tourist spots are included the country’s 12 international gateways. In terms of tourist visits, more than 7 million visited the country in 2018, a significant increase the 6.62 million in 2017. As of 2018, some 5.4 million workers have been employed by the tourism sector.
“We are seeing that technology is playing a bigger role for tourism in the Philippines,” the official said, citing that the DOT and DOST have already taken steps on how best to address some of the technology-related challenges that the local tourism industry is facing.
For instance, Abubakar said data mining should now be considered to have a better understanding of the wants and needs of tourists. She said knowing the relevant numbers can help the department as well as tourism companies on how to best market or promote their services.
In the Caraga region for instance, data collection and analysis is needed to determine how to best position the tourists spots that the region can offer to the global tourism market. Having a good understanding of data mining will also allow tourism companies to effectively market their services via social media, Abubakar said.
Another practical use of data mining is to determine or analyze traffic, particularly for a city center such as Butuan City. The city, designated as a “first class urbanized city” has a population of more than 330,000 as of the last census. It is usually a “pit stop” or stop-over spot before tourists go to Siargao, a globally recognized surfing spot. Many tourists usually stay in Butuan City for a night or two before going to Siargao.
“What science and technology does is give information,” Abubakar said, noting that there are now concrete steps being taken by the tourism department when it comes to technology.
This is also the reason that the agency and the DOST have initiated conferences such as the one held n Butuan City. The “Luwas Pilipinas” conference held in Butuan City has been spearheaded by the DOST’s Philippine Council of Industry, Energy, and Emerging Technology Research and Development (DOST-PCIEERD). The PCIEERD has been developing technologies that are seen to be very helpful for other government agencies, foremost of which is the DOT.