MANILA, Philippines – Tourism front-line workers are taking crash courses in Russian to prepare for the entry of Russian tourists to Boracay Island, an online news site reported.
The News Today reported that Russian Embassy officers and staff were brought in to teach tourism workers Russian language and cuisine.
It said the Boracay Foundation Inc. (BFI) has been holding the seminars since July for the expected surge of Russian visitors availing of a 21-day visa privilege.
BFI has been closely working with the Russian consulate in holding the series of seminars.
“We want to equip hotel and resort staff and those involved in other service related functions so that we cater to them better,” said BFI executive director Virgie Sarabia.
The first seminar was conducted last July. It focused on lifestyle, gourmet and cultural beliefs and practices.
Frontliners were taught to be punctual in meetings and appointments, and to be prepared for the meetings to drag on with a long period of socializing before business.
Seminar participants were also given a crash course and demonstration in Russian gourmet cooking.
Russian embassy protocol officer Dmitry Larionov; Alexander Kravets, chef of Ambassador Vitaly Vorobiev and Honorary Consul Armi Lopez Garcia led the seminar.
Tourism regional director Edwin Trompeta said Russia was previously not a focus of marketing programs of the Department of Tourism.
“It was not our usual market. But we were surprised when Russian tourists started coming in droves in recent years,” Trompeta said.
He said the tourists usually include young professionals and businessmen and the “new rich” who benefited from recent economic growth in Russia.
“The Russian market is growing very fast and we have to be prepared,”said Trompeta.
He said tourists usually arrive starting this month just before the onset of winter and until summer.
Russian tourists usually come in groups, stay longer and spend more compared to other tourists.
Last August, Trompeta said, the DOT spearheaded a team to Moscow for Wellness and Leisure Fair as part of its marketing and promotion blitz.
He said that in January alone, two planeloads of Russian tourists numbering around 500 came to Boracay.
Aside from visiting tourist destinations, they also go shopping in malls and department stores.
“They spend a lot of time to shop and they even complained when we give them half a day to go shopping,” he said.