Philippine tourism leaders are clamouring for one integrated app to serve post-pandemic domestic travellers, while contending that human touch is here to stay even as the industry gears towards smart tourism.
At the Second Tourism and Technology Forum organised by the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB), it was revealed that the current digital platform leaves much to be desired, with local government units (LGUs) of various destinations having varying apps for approving tourists’ entry, contact tracing, QR codes and the like.
Monette Iturralde-Hamlin, PACEOS (Philippine Association of Convention/Exhibition Organizers and Suppliers) vice president for conventions, said the tourism industry needs one integrated app that can be used across the entire country to facilitate the return of travel.
He explained that having one integrated system would simplify health and safety protocols when travelling, and make for a better quality app.
Philippine Tour Operators Associations (Philtoa) president Cesar Cruz said that while tourists in overseas destinations only have to register their details on one app, domestic tourists in the Philippines had to, at one time, fill in their details on about four different apps and obtain four QR codes.
Calling the procedure “complicated”, Cruz questioned why the other LGUs aren’t able to adopt Bagui City’s Visita app so that only one app needs to be used so as to enable efficiency and encourage more domestic travel.
Jojo Clemente, president, Tourism Congress of the Philippines, agreed on the need for an integrated app and, in future, a global app when international travel returns.
Clemente, however, stressed on “the need for human touch”. He said that technology can only do so much, and human touch is needed to enhance the experience, for instance, when people get frustrated booking online.
Concurring, Margie Munsayac, chair of Hotel Sales and Marketing Association International, said: “People are more comfortable talking to a human being than a chatbot because they can get the information they want.”
Both Clemente and Munsayac said the challenge for the industry is how to add the human touch into the customer experience, while maximising digital connectivity.