PHILIPPINES tourism has received a booster shot in the form of a US$7.1 million technical assistance grant from the Asian Development Bank and Canadian International Development Agency.
The four-year grant will be used to provide skills training, improve hotel standards and accreditation systems, better improve tourism enterprise licensing mechanisms as well as hire international and Filipino consultants in the areas of human resource development and tourism-related fields.
Of the total sum, US$1.8 million would be earmarked for skills training with an emphasis on the customer service-oriented aspects of tourism, said Maria Victoria Jasmin, Department of Tourism (DoT) undersecretary for tourism regulation, coordination and resource generation.
“We’re not just looking at (improving service standards in) the accommodation sector, but also at travel and tours. We’re looking at transport operators, tour guides and tour operators,” she said, adding that the grant aims to address industry training needs, focusing particularly on tour guiding skills and increasing the number of tour guides.
The lack of tour guides, especially multilingual tour guides, has been a bugbear of major inbound tour operators in the Philippines.
“We need more Chinese-, Russian-, Korean-speaking tour guides, and that is a challenge we have to address,” Jasmine commented, pointing out that the industry was losing manpower to call centres, which pay better rates.
DoT will also competitively fund hotels for training.
The grant will also go towards funding a study in refining the processes of the national tourism enterprise accreditation scheme, so that local governments will be encouraged to implement and safeguard DoT standards for accreditation. Pilot studies will be rolled out in four key tourism regions – Cebu, Palawan, Bohol and Davao.