Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat is bullish about the recovery of English schools in the country which could help put back the Philippines as a leading English as a Secondary Language (ESL) destination.
During the Department of Tourism (DOT) webinar titled “Philippine ESL Industry Situationer” on Friday, Puyat ordered schools to continue online ESL programs to maintain the country’s position as a leading ESL country.
The goal of ESL classes is to improve the student’s English language for travel, business, and social purposes. According to the British Council, the Philippines is recognized globally as one of the largest English-speaking nations, citing the influx of foreign students as a key factor in the quality of ESL programs being offered here.
The Tourism chief said the DOT is committed to assist in the enhancement of educators’ skills and in exploring ways to promote the country’s ESL offerings.
“The students who have come here have returned to their home countries for now. While travel restrictions brought by the COVID-19 pandemic have affected the growth of the ESL industry, we know we can take back the gains we have achieved,” she said.
Puyat said the DOT is now also closely working with the private sector and other concerned stakeholders in developing the official guidelines on health and safety protocols for the implementation of ESL schools once the authorities would allow the reopening of classes.
She stressed that the years of developing ESL as a key educational tourism and market expansion efforts have lured students from foreign countries to the Philippines. These include students mostly coming from other Asian countries, the Middle East, and non-English speaking countries of Europe.
The DOT webinar gathered professionals from the country’s leading ESL associations, including Soyen Sameon-See from the Association of Language Academy (CALA) in Cebu, Reuben Aslor from the Baguio English Schools’ Association (BESA), Mike Cabigon, business development manager of the British Council-Philippines, Loida Flojo, director of Enderun Extension, and Eurena Geralla, president of English Philippines (EP).
According to the DOT, ESL is classified under Education Tourism, a “niche” product of the Tourism department based on the National Tourism Development Plan (NTDP) 2016-2022.