Who says jobs in the tourism industry are limited to tour guides and translators?
Not Department of Tourism (DoT) Undersecretary Eduardo Jarque, OIC for Tourism Promotions Sector and OIC for Planning, Product Development and Coordination Sector, who says, “There is no better time to be in the industry than now. I can’t imagine of any other industry that has so many opportunities and within that industry you can move from one place to the other; we have people starting as reservation clerks and in the end they end up in the PR department. It is a (growing) industry, so it cannot fail. If you know your calling, grab it now and go for it.”
Jarque says passion is necessary for any career, particularly one in tourism. Without it, he says, no amount of preparation will help. Having your heart set on a career in tourism also makes things easier. He urges those looking for a career to consider tourism as “Opportunities are everywhere.” Jarque reveals an interesting problem: tourism has many jobs unfilled because people don’t know of the vast range of opportunities available in the field. One problem may be the misconceptions about jobs in the industry. “(We tend to say), ‘tour guide ka lang (you’re just a tour guide)’ (even though) abroad, (it’s) a profession.”
To upgrade the quality of professionals in the industry, Jarque was among those who started the Mabuhay Guide program, in which applicants must pass screenings by panels and the Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP), and learn under industry experts and national artists. The DoT is gearing up to train another batch soon. So are there opportunities in the tourism industry for those who didn’t finish their studies? Of course, Jarque says. You just “have to have the right attitude and you have to love people. First, you have to know yourself, your capabilities, and all that. (Opportunities) are everywhere. Come to the DoT; we can give you a list of hotels, tour operators, the shipping lines.” You can also keep your eyes open by looking for listings in the classified ads, he adds. “But you must realize that travel and tourism is not all glamour. It’s hard work, it’s 24/7.”
“When you love your job, you’ll never have worked a single day in your life. At this stage of my life, I still look forward to the mornings, dying to come to work,” Jarque says. “But when it’s work, it’s work. They can call you any time of day,” especially if there is an emergency. Don’t expect an 8-5 job in tourism because it’s a calling,” he adds.
What about career shifters? Jarque has good news for them too; he tells the story of a butler at a hotel in Boracay who was a medical representative who knew nothing of the hotel industry. But, “He was willing to be trained; so he trained. Now, he is one of the most popular butlers in (his hotel).”
Attitude is key, regardless of where you are in your professional life. But Jarque cautions, “Don’t go (into tourism) for the wrong reasons. You have to study yourself. And if you think you got it, go for it. And it’s never too late to start anything. Some people that I have known who are in their autumn years of their lives are into travel writing now. You can really shift. There are so many facets now of travel. It’s a way of life.” Jarque believes that traveling is a way of expanding horizons, and those in the later years of their lives can make the best tourism professionals. “There is no age limitation for tourism jobs. You can be a tour guide. The best tour guides we’ve had are the people who have lived life, who have seen the world, and they have read so much. People love having those tour guides.”
Even better, a person can create his or her own opportunities in tourism. “Even people who are obsessed with their bodies, they end up as lifeguards. People who surf all their lives – some people call it a bum, but no, they call it a way of life…you just bring yourself to surf destinations and you can become a teacher. You just have to look for (an opportunity) and make something good out of it; (this is always) possible in the industry. It’s within us, to take care of others. We take care of people because we want the tourist to come here, stay longer, and spend more to keep the tourism industry going. And you just to be an important part of the picture. The tourists (we take care of) should not be limited to international travels. We are tourists of our own country. Everybody is travelling now.”
Confidence plays a role in choosing a career in tourism. Jarque advises, “You have to know your value, and then you have to go for it. Knock on doors. They will see through you (especially if you have) what it takes. Don’t overplan. You just have to be honest to yourself: Is this for me? You have to make sacrifices. Some people do a fantastic job of juggling family and career, especially the ladies. They have mastered it. So there is no reason that we’ll be running out of [job opportunities]. [Tourism] is the biggest industry in the world. And with our proficiency in the English language, we should be able to work here and outside [the country].”
You’d be surprised at the fields that involve tourism in the Philippines: medicine, dentistry, and cosmetic procedures cater to tourists, as do English language schools. Jarque says, “We wish there are more qualified tour guides. We wish there are more qualified taxi drivers; we hold seminars here for taxi drivers, (teaching them) how to be friendly with tourists. You just have to have a little bit of imagination, creativity, innovativeness, adaptability…all these things.” (C. F. Bobis)
For more information, visit the DoT website at http://www.wowphilippines.com.ph; to find out about their training programs, click on the “Business and Investments” header then on the “Tourism Training” link.
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