DOT highlights ESL as key tourism product in PH

The Department of Tourism (DOT) has wrapped up its second Hybrid Philippine Education Tourism Conference (PETC) over the week which was among the government's programs to promote the country.

Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat speaks during the virtual recognition of Women Champions of Sustainability hosted by The Conrad Manila on August 16, 2021. (Screengrab from Conrad Manila's YouTube video)

The two-day PETC was held by the DOT Office of Product and Market Development (OPMD) from Jan. 26 to 27 in Clark, Pampanga in a bid to further develop English as Second Language (ESL) which the agency considers as the key education tourism product in the country.

"Among the biggest challenges we face today is how to effectively provide students with their learning requirements. Because of the pandemic, teachers, students, and schools had to shift quickly to digital forms of instruction," Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said.

"Despite this difficult educational environment, we have to continue equipping our students with the necessary skills to succeed in an unpredictable world, which requires innovation and a strong support network," she added.

With the ESL being promoted by the OPMD since 2013, the Tourism chief assured that the Department will continue to conduct activities which will further the growth of the education tourism industry and assist the stakeholders

According to Puyat, the Philippines was already considered as the fifth-largest ESL provider in the world even before the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

To enhance the country’s position not only as an ESL hub but also as a multi-faceted education tourism destination, the PETC also showed local and foreign students short-term online and offline education tourism programs that are being offered by institutions in the Philippines in the new normal.

Also invited for the event were local and foreign education tourism authorities to share their expertise on marketing strategies that will help local institutions make their offerings more appealing to foreign students.

Invited experts discussed topics that are relevant to stakeholders such as international mobility, the latest education requirements for foreign students, and best practices of neighboring countries that local institutions can adopt to mitigate the impacts of the pandemic.

Another major component of the PETC was the virtual business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) networking activities held on Friday, Jan. 28, that were aimed at providing opportunities for stakeholders and key players to renew or forge new partnerships and exchange ideas and education trends.

The first-ever PETC was organized by the DOT in July 2019 at the Jpark Island Resort & Waterpark in Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu which was attended by over 350 participants from ESL schools, colleges, universities, associations, and government agencies.