TOUR guides in Cagayan de Oro convened yesterday for the first time to address the increasing number of tourists visiting the city as they encouraged individuals in the tour services to join the group and more effectively dispatch its services.

Flocked by respected organizations linked to tourism industry, the Giya Amihanang Mindanao Association (Gama), otherwise called as the Northern Mindanao tour guides association, is planning to establish linkages among all other touring and accommodating agencies.

“We intend to establish linkages and networks. We are also setting the direction of the group to boost the tourism industry in Cagayan de Oro that is booming.

Imagine the demand of tour guides,” said Gama president Reina Bontuyan.

Latest count of tourists is rapidly increasing that doubled the figure in last year’s record, according to the Department of Tourism (DOT) and the city tourism office.

In August this year, around 41,000 tourists are included in the list with 20 percent foreigners.

Countrywide ratings tagged Cagayan de Oro as the No. 5 most destinations by both local and foreign tourists, said DOT Regional Director Catalino Chan.

Chan vowed to increase tour guiding perks based on the increase on the number of tour guides to encourage them to support the government’s programs in tourism.

With the theme “Coming together is the beginning, working together is progress, staying together is success,” yesterday’s convention is aimed at establishing the presence of the association of tour guides in the region; gain acquaintance of the various tourism players in the city; promote partnerships among the different tourism components; and to bring about synergy in the tourism industry.

Vice Mayor Ian Acenas expressed gratitude over what Gama had contributed to the booming tourism industry in the city, saying that “tour guides (agents) play a big role in the city’s tourism sector.”

As chairperson of the tourism committee in the City Council, Acenas expressed optimism for a more booming tourism business in the coming years.

“We have so many plans and I hope these would be realized,” he said during the activity.

Acenas was also releasing statements on the same day to give incentives to tour agents.

Gama was organized in 2005 with original members of 30 tour guide agents.

After three years, Bontuyan said two of them were left which prompted them to conduct training on tour guiding aimed to increase its membership.

Today, she said the association’s membership is continuously increasing as the demand for agents also increases each month.

article from Loui Maliza of SSC

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