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Surigao tricycle drivers harnessed as tourism promoters

Photo credit: surigao-city.de
By Vanessa L Almeda

SURIGAO CITY — At least 1,500 drivers of tricycles — the city’s main public transport — have been trained as tourism promoters, an official said. 

“A tourist uses a plane, a ship, a boat or a jeep in order to reach a resort or a tourist spot. In our city, we don’t have a taxi, we have you, tricycle drivers who will bring these guests to their preferred destinations,” said Roslyn B. Merlin, city tourism officer, during a seminar for the drivers late last month.

Last year, Surigao City, dubbed the “City of Island Adventures,” registered a total of 200,000 tourist arrivals, a number that Ms. Merlin said could be improved with the cooperation of the transport sector.

She cited the transport sector’s contribution to tourism in popular spots such as Palawan and Ilocos.

“If Palawan did it, why can’t we not do it [here in Surigao]?” Ms. Merlin told seminar participants.

She said a separate qualifying activity will identify tricycle divers who could double up as tourist guides. The tourism office has initially hired 11 drivers stationed at the Surigao City Airport as “tourist transport service.”

The week-long seminar started on Jan. 29 and covered subjects such as traffic rules and regulations, health and personal hygiene, among others.

As of Jan. 31, 2013, the city government has issued a total of 2,002 stickers or the equivalent of registered tricycle operators in the city. The number is estimated to reach as high as 3,000 as units tagged as “extras” — not regularly plying — are not on the list.

A tricycle driver, for starters, will be required to wear shoes, a decent polo or shirt, and should have taken a bath before he starts to drive. A no-smoking policy is also strictly enforced.

Sought for comment, Daniel Engwan-So, president of the Surigao City Federated Tricycle Operators and Drivers, said his group welcomes the tourism initiative. — Vanessa L. Almeda/BusinessWorld

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