I have been to Cebu City‘s Jesuit House hidden inside Ho Tong Hardware for about two times already but I always had to at least ask around once to be able to locate it. It’s good to hear that it gets a little hi-tech with the help of DOT & Smart through QR Codes.
In a developing country such as the Philippines, QR codes have found a less conventional, yet more meaningful use. With a little help from the Department of Tourism (DOT), Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart), and travel website MyCebu.ph, domestic tourism is going online in real time.
Digital Tourism through QR Codes
In December 2011, the Pari-An district in Cebu City officially became the first area in the Philippines to feature QR Codes.
Quick Response Codes or simply known as “QR Codes” are barcode-like images commonly found on billboards and on print ads. Using a smartphone with a compatible QR Code app, passersby can easily access additional information about a product or a service by capturing the QR Code with their phone camera.
The Jesuit House is located in Pari-An. Inconspicuously hidden inside a warehouse named “Ho Tong Hardware”, the QR Code can easily reveal that, like the Philippines as a whole, there is more to the establishment than meets the eye.
Another noteworthy application of the QR Code are the signages which contain unique QR codes on various sites in Pari-an, thus enabling tourists to view additional information via MyCebu.ph. The Colon St. monument in particular offers tourists a glimpse at how the first major thoroughfare in the Philippines looked like during its heyday.
Complementing the QR Codes are two free electronic guidebooks which aim to share information on Cebu to both international and local audiences. These are A Guide To Sinulog 2012 and A Guide To Cebu 2012.
Sinulog is Cebu City’s grand festival held every third Sunday of January which celebrates the island’s acceptance of Christianity. It centers on worshipping the Santo Nino (the Child Christ) through prayer and revelry and is touted to be the Philippines’ “Festival of Festivals.”
The guidebook to Sinulog has recently been updated to showcase photos and information on the winners of the Sinulog dance and photo competitions.
Smart continues to spur tourism in the Queen City of the South with two additional electronic guidebooks in the works. First is a food guide which will be made in collaboration with eskinasugbo.com and the other, a business guide entitled A Guide to Doing Business in Cebu 2012 which will also be made in conjunction with local businesses, government agencies and officials, and by MyCebu.ph editors Max and Marlen Limpag.
Both the Sinulog and Cebu guidebooks are downloadable in .ePub and .mobi formats from MyCebu.ph and can be viewed in most mobile devices using free reading applications such as Aldiko and Stanza. To date, the publications have tallied a combined total of over 1,000 downloads across several operating systems.
According to Smart spokesperson Ramon Isberto, the Cebu electronic tourism projects is a great start to what Smart and the DOT envision to be the future of domestic tourism in the Philippines. I think I have to get back to the Jesuit House in Ho Tong Hardware in Cebu to try that QR Code soon. 🙂
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