The world’s best island in 2012 is renowned not just for the beaches, but for the liveliness and warmth of its people—a community of locals, guests, residents, and workers who understand deep down what it’s like to travel, to engage with others, to live life to the fullest.
For 19 years, Tourist Center Boracay has quietly but steadily supported the island as it grew from a backpackers’secret paradise to the world-renowned travel-and-leisure destination it is today. In 1994, when the Tourist Center was opened, Boracay was a pristine, relatively isolated island with no mega-infrastracture and poor communication lines. It was to provide basic services like postal, telecom, safety deposit boxes, airline and accommodation bookings, and forex that the Tourist Center was set up as a solution to difficulties experienced firsthand by its chair, Maximilian Oppacher, and his friends who came as backpackers to Boracay in the early 90s. These services were warmly welcomed by the growing number of guests and the local community of the island.
Thus, Tourist Center Boracay was founded on empathy for others’ needs, especially the tourists. Jeffrey F. Mancao, general manager of the Tourist Center in Boracay and Bohol, affirms that this empathy still underscores the sincerity of the service in the Tourist Center. “We love tourists and serve them as much as we can because we know that when they make a trip to Boracay, or elsewhere for that matter, they pour out their savings after months or years of slaving at work. Travel is not just leisure, but their way of recharging themselves, of rewarding themselves so they can move ahead with joy. They invest hard earned money to see the world, to get to know people, to squeeze the best out of life.”
This licensed butler and hotelier for 11 years found in the Tourist Center Boracay the opportunity for genuine service that can set the bar for what it’s like to serve in Boracay. “We are not a hotel but with regards to quality and heartfelt service, Tourist Center can humbly compete!” shares Jeffrey.
It’s a shame that this “Tourist 911” doesn’t get as much publicity as it deserves. Are you in a hurry to print your airline itinerary? The Internet Center will get it done in a jiffy. Get your travel snapshots edited and printed, too. Need to book a flight? Domestic or international, you can book a flight at the Tourist Center. Lost in Boracay? The Tourist Center has copies of the most comprehensive map and other guides. Need to send an emergency package? There’s a private postal service—why not grab a postcard and send it with the package? Are you a business executive on a holiday? You can stay connected and efficient with telecoms, fax, photocopying, CD burning, typing and secretarial services, printing business cards, and so much more—foreign exchange, credit card payments, safety deposit boxes, and of course, quality souvenirs and imported and export goodies. If you need to get around the island, you can book for transfers such as helicopter, speed boat, or airconditioned van.
What accounts for the lively façade of the Tourist Center at White Beach between Station 2 and 3 are not just the colorful souvenirs on display. There is a wide array of fashionable island wear, a mini-mart, and a showcase of Philippine (not just Boracay) products like the Angeles parol (Christmas lantern), the Batangas balisong (pocket knife), Bulacan sweets, and more.
By now it should be obvious that the Tourist Center is impressively jampacked with the best kind of services and products. We haven’t mentioned yet the jampack of information that it’s capable of providing. After all, it has earned the moniker “encyclopedia of Boracay.” You’re hotel-less in Boracay? The encyclopedic staff will narrow down a list of options that caters to your preference. The “Filipino Travel Center” can arrange for your travel and tours not just in Boracay, but elsewhere in the Philippines. Going somewhere but you don’t know the weather? The staff can provide one-week weather forecasts.
The Tourist Center was an unusual business concept, but it has grown in a very competitive hospitality business environment since it was launched in 1994. In fact, this private business is commonly mistaken as the Department of Tourism because of the quality and wide array of tourist services that it offers.
“It’s flattering when people think we’re the DOT. We’re a private business, but we’re one with the government in promoting tourism, willing to share in the responsibility. Our genuine, heartfelt service will rub off on how visitors will think of Boracay, as a place with heart,” shares Jeffrey.
All this is overwhelmingly impressive, but Jeffrey is quick to say that thekayamanan [treasure] of the Tourist Center are not the service, products, or information, but the people who handle these with their hearts and hands. Jeffrey says this about both tourists and the staff at the Tourist Center. “It’s not about the money, but fulfilment. We provide, even anticipate, the needs of tourists. We are a happy lot here.”
Where do the employees draw their positivity? They can make tourists happy because they themselves are made happy, with the Tourist Center also providing for employees’ needs—proper training, benefits, the management infecting them with the right character, work ethic, and faith, which they can carry with them even if they pursue another lifepath. “We motivate them, educate them with DQC (discipline, quality of products and service, and consistency), and most importantly, instill in them a sense of ownership. Staff can teach the management a lot of things, too.”
The staff is encouraged to begin the day with a meditation on loving themselves and other people, with thankfulness for a noble job, for being alive. They all make it a point to begin the day with a happy state of heart.
Tourist Center Boracay is open daily from 9 AM to 10 PM including holidays.
Manggayad, Boracay Island, Malay, Aklan
Tel: +63 (0)36 2883704
Fax: +63 (0)36 2883705
Article and photo by Boracaymagazine.wordpress.com