Name: Consuelo Garcia-Jones
Position title: Tourism Attaché, Australia/New Zealand
Company name: Philippine Department of Tourism
When and why did you join the industry?
I joined the industry the 70s and all I thought I’d be doing was “a little work” then spending most of my time on a plane exploring different places both at home and other countries that looked so inviting! I was very young and naïve.
Fat chance ….. A lot of hard work ….. But not totally mistaken, being in the industry has given me the opportunity to discover new places, meet people from different countries who in many cases have become life long friends.
What do you like most about your job?
The constant challenges! Promoting the known and the new, undiscovered destinations in the Philippines, highlighting the uniqueness of each place and experiences one can truly enjoy. With 7,107 islands there is so much on offer ….. the bustling cities contrasting with sleepy island villages, the multi-layered history and culture, the undeniably warm and friendly people, cuisine (the Filipinos live to eat), shopping bargains, the abundance of sights and music everywhere (to match Filipinos’ love for singing and dancing). I can go on and on. There is something for everyone, the young and let’s just say the mature! Whilst I have been promoting the Philippines for many years, I never tire from this and am as just as enthusiastic today as I was when I first started, I have an awesome job.
What’s one of the biggest achievements of your career so far?
When I started, Australia was ranked between 10 and 12 in arrivals to the Philippines with minimal numbers.
To see how the market has grown against many odds at times is an achievement all in itself. At present, Australia ranks #5 in arrivals, #3 in actual spending and longer stays averaging 12 nights. It is still growing and a lot of credit I share with the wholesalers and agents, the many hotel/resort representatives, the airlines and those who have returned having experienced the “FUN” and “Adventure”, sharing their stories on a variety social media platforms. It is very rewarding being a part of such growth.
That makes it all worthwhile. A ‘feel good’ situation!
What’s the best advice ever given to you and who gave it?
Travel is education. For as long as you are able, keep going because the memory of each place, each person you meet and each experience will remain in your heart and mind forever. That is precious. My mother.
Who do you admire and see as a role model in the industry?
Looking back, the queen of adventure and derring do – aviatrix Amelia Earhart. Aside from her well-known trailblazing achievements, like her, I relish the joys of ‘flying solo’ (times when I feel extremely gutsy)! And she left us a mystery that we still wonder about over 70 years later, what a legend!
What can people expect from your office and what sets it apart from the rest?
We are an extension of the culture back home – welcoming, always approachable and helpful, personal and…fun of course!
What destinations are on your travel bucket list?
· Batanes in the northern part of the Philippines
· Walk the Camino de Santiago de Compostela in Spain
· Fatima in Portugal
· Provence, Avignon and its surrounds, in the South of France
· Patagonia, south of Argentina and Chile
So many other interesting towns, cities and countries each with their own unique charm that I would love to visit.
What’s a memorable travel experience you’ve had (good or bad)?
WOW, there are so many wonderful experiences it’s hard to pick one.
The one bad experience was landing in a country (I will not name as I loved the place and hope to visit again one day) and being told at immigration my visa for entry was not valid for another two weeks. I stood stunned realising I had not noticed this…. mea culpa! All I did was say “well, if it’s a problem then I will move on to the next destination” but believe me, I was quietly praying so hard, as this was the country I was really looking forward to visit. It took what felt like forever but with prayers answered, they let me in.
Still with this bad start a good memorable ending.
What are three things you always take with you when travelling?
A well-worn rosary for extended turbulence in flights, a pair of trusty jeans and my (equally well worn) Bruno Magli flats. Come on, what did you expect – there has to be a favourite pair of shoes in the any lady’s ‘must-take’!
What direction do you see the industry heading in over the next five to ten years?
Thanks to profusion of online resources – continued increase of DIY travel planning and booking and rise of websites catering to this trend with ‘filtered’ info; more regional travel spurred by ever increasing budget airline + relaxed visas i.e. ASEAN Integration; more influx from China – I think there will be more travelling in general because technology advancements in many forms are liberating many of us from what traditionally keep us home-bound e.g. can be away and longer periods because emails/Skype keep us connected, more likely to venture into new, more affordable destinations thanks to social media endorsements (reduced ‘fear of the unknown) etc etc
The operators in the industry who keep their ears close to the ground and adapt to the changing dynamics will do very well. But we will see continued rationalising…