Tourism students told to consider Asean pact

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Friday, April 25, 2014


TOURISM industry players in Cebu are encouraging tourism schools and universities in the province to participate in various tourism activities hosted by government and private sectors to bring their graduates closer to the Asean Mutual Recognition Arrangement on Tourism Professionals (Asean MRA-TP).

The Asean MRA -TP allows free movement of tourism professionals within the Asean region.

The significant element in this arrangement is the recognition of skills and qualifications of working tourism professionals from different Asean countries.

Once fully integrated in 2015, Asean-certified tourism professionals who pass the common competency standards can find work in various sectors of tourism in member countries. However, before one can be certified, a tourism professional has to accomplish a set of basic requirements before being considered qualified for a particular job. The agreement was signed on Nov. 9, 2012.

Naitas Cebu president Stephanie Villahermosa said keeping the tourism schools and universities in the loop of various activities and programs conducted by industry players is an opportunity for the academe and the graduates to be closer to the Asean MRA-TP.

She urged the academe to go link with the private sector so their students would be exposed and have the feel of the industry.

Although initiatives have been ongoing to help the academe produce a qualified tourism workforce, Villahermosa admitted much has to be improved in terms of skills.

Communication skills, for instance, still has to be improved, she said.

“Language barrier is not a big factor because we are good in English, but there is still a need for improvement in terms of speaking and writing,” said Villahermosa.

Villahermosa earlier announced that prior to the International Travel Fair 2014 in July, they would be holding a Cebu Tourism Festival Week which will highlight activities of students and schools offering tourism courses.

She said engaging the schools in these types of activities would help them create an active organization of tourism schools and at the same time address the job mismatch between what the academe produces and requirements of the industry.

While the Asean MRA-TP would open employment opportunities to tourism professionals, as this would translate to better earnings and compensation, what they fear is the possible brain drain of tourism professionals in the country.

“That is why engaging them in various activities in our own industry would help expose them to the opportunities here,” she said.

At present, there are six labor divisions where tourism professionals may find employment in member countries, namely: front office; housekeeping; food production; food and beverage services (for hotel services); travel agency; and tour operations (for travel services division).

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on April 26, 2014.

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