Philippine tourism experts step in to solve SEA Games chaos

Philippine tourism stakeholders have taken it upon themselves to troubleshoot the logistical nightmare that plagues this year’s South-east Asian (SEA) Games, with reports of athletes having to grapple with airport delays, lengthy transfer services, insufficient food, and subpar accommodation.

These logistical chaos ahead of the 30th SEA Games, which will officially open on November 30, ensued in an emergency meeting convened yesterday by the Philippine Department of Tourism (DoT), where the Tourism Congress of the Philippines (TCP), Philippine Hotel Owners Association (PHOAI), Hotel Sales and Marketing Association (HSMA), and Philippine Association of Convention/Exhibition Organizers and Suppliers (PACEOS) were in attendance to pledge their unbridled support to assist with the SEA Games.

The emergency meeting held on November 27 served as a platform for tourism stakeholders to raise questions and suggestions in accommodating SEA Games delegates

To smoothen out the transport, accommodation, and food related problems, the DoT has assigned a focal person in each of the four clusters – Manila, Southern Luzon and La Union, Clark, and Subic – where delegates are staying from November 19 to December 19.

Initially intended for Philippine tourism destination promotions, existing information desks at the lobbies of participating hotels are now disseminating SEA Games-related information from the Philippine SEA Games Organizing Committee (PHISGOC) and assisting with concerns, which will be forwarded to PHISGOC for proper handling.

The DoT is also reaching out to hotels in Clark, Calabarzon, and La Union to ensure quality and consistent services throughout.

Orly Ballesteros, board member of both the TCP and PACEOS, speaking to TTGmice on the sidelines of the 7th Summit of the Philippine Council of Associations and Association Executives (PACEOS) yesterday, said: “Planning is essential. We had three years to prepare (for the SEA Games). Logistics like transport and accommodation are small things (which should have been planned for).”

Having the right people, such as roping in the correct suppliers and partners to aid with the logistics planning, should already have been thought of from the onset, Ballesteros opined,.

“You need MICE professionals because an event organiser or a production company is only an expert in one particular core competency of an event. If you have (the help of a MICE professional), you will get an overall view of what elements are needed,” he elaborated.

Philippine Council of Associations and Association Executives’ founder and CEO Octavio Peralta agreed that the logistics should have been handled by professional event organisers.

“We have many expert PCOs and DMCs (who can help out with the planning). The DoT should have been allowed (by the SEA Games organising committee) to get involved, (and leave) the logistics and organisation to the experts,” Peralta lamented.

Against the public backlash the country has received due to ill preparation, Ballesteros believes that now with tourism experts joining the fray, it will help “government officials handling this event to avoid further embarrassment and errors”.

Believing that Filipino hospitality will eventually shine through, Peralta added: “Asians are always polite. (After) the initial knee-jerk reaction, I don’t think they will harp on it. They will forgive and forget. We have a good image and relationships with our neighbours.”

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