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Dumaguete City, Philippines Wednesday, February 17, 2016
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economic booster'

Businessmen in Dumaguete said they are happy that their contribution in boosting the economy of the city was finally recognized by the local administration, after five years of waiting.

In his State of the City Address recently, Mayor Manuel Sagarbarria said he acknowledged the enormous contribution of the Negros Oriental Chamber of Commerce and Industry, headed by Eduard Du, in helping boost the local economy.

Du said Dumaguete is on a boom in all aspects, be it in the tourism industry as the No. 1 destination of independent travelers from China as rated by Agoda.com, 93 rd among the BPOs all over the country, and 5 th best retirement place in the world.

To date, the top 5 call centers in the city and more than 100 more BPOs have generated jobs to more or less 10,000 fresh and new graduates, excluding those who are accepting clients through online jobs using the information technology, or simply involved in the cottage industries and SMES.

Du, however, would not want to discuss how much taxes the city had been deprived due to the operation of the so-called “underground economy” but is certain jobs are being generated.

As a result, the city has a very high employment rate. Records of the City Treasurer's Office showed an increase in the city's collection rate at 97 percent. Business records during the past five years indicate an increase in the number of establishments, from 3,000 to more or less 6,000 this year, partly due to the advocacy of NOCCI, Du said.

These included the entry of big players such as Robinsons, City Mall is coming, and the big chain of restaurants that has attracted employment.

In the construction business, two big hotels were established in the last five years: Go Hotel and Hotel Essencia. Three more are coming, to include Fil Invest, Siera Hotel and the Boulevard Residences.

Du stressed this growth has to be sustained so more players will come, by addressing basic concerns such as the traffic problem, drug addiction and other criminality in the city. “It's a must that these achievements are maintained if not improved,” he added.

Meanwhile, the city's tricycle drivers will be trained as tour guides and ambassadors of the city for tourists, both local and foreign.

As an emerging tourism destination, a tourism awareness training and workshop for tourism frontliners started today until Feb. 19, with 50 drivers as participants. For this month, 250 drivers will be trained, and another 250 next month.

City tourism officer Woodrow Maquiling Jr. said the training will equip the drivers with necessary skills in tour guiding, as they are the first to come in contact with the tourists, while transporting them to their places of accommodation or other destinations.

They must be aware of the tourism concept, how to deal with certain groups of foreign tourists, their characteristics, their greetings, must be acquainted with the history of Dumaguete, including the places to go in the city, and must be able to explain the significance of landmarks, among others.

This is also part of the self-development of the driver, to boost and develop their self-esteem and be able to converse with the tourists. They are told that the tourists are already aware of the fare rate, and overpricing would create a bad impression, instead of protect the integrity of Dumaguete.

Maquiling said this is a project of the Department of Interior and Local Government, for Bais City, Tanjay City, Dauin, Manjuyod and Dumaguete City, with a P5 million budget for each local government unit.

After the training, each driver will be issued a vest with markings “tourist certified driver” in colors according to the tricycle organization they belong to, for earlier identification in case of complaints.

The project will also include workshops for bartenders and hotel and restaurant workers because Mayor Sagarbarria wants practitioners in the tourism industry to extend improved customer service, Maquiling said.

The project started before the time of then mayor and governor Agustin Perdices.*JG


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