International assessors to check DOT accommodations standards

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Friday, May 9, 2014


STARTING this month, some international accommodation assessors will evaluate quality standards the Department of Tourism (DOT) introduced last year in the accommodations sector to ensure that global standards and practices are met.

In a press statement, the DOT said travelers to the Philippines will soon be guided by globally-accepted standards for tourism enterprises.

Under the Hotel and Resorts Quality Assurance and Accreditation System, the DOT recruited 10 International Assessors (IAs) who will undergo an orientation, along with DOT area officers and industry third-party auditors, on the new standards to prepare for joint pilot assessments.

The system is an internationally recognized guide that seeks to assist visitors in terms of the quality, service and comfort provided by accommodation businesses of all sizes and types in the Philippines.

The system, which was launched last year, will be applied and tested in 155 hotels and resorts in the country’s main tourist destinations: Cebu, Bohol, Davao and Palawan.

If it succeeds in the pilot areas, DOT will consider an expansion nationwide.

Canadian grant

The DOT said the international assessment is one of the outputs identified in the $7.1-million assistance funded by the Government of Canada and administered by the Asian Development Bank.

The project also focuses on assisting local governments to reduce red tape affecting businesses operating in the tourism sector and rolling out a tourism industry skills development program.

It also forms part of the Philippines Improving Competitiveness in Tourism, which is designed to assist the government’s tourism roadmap of reaching 10 million tourist arrivals by 2016.

“Through tourism accreditation, local and foreign visitors can be assured that their hotel or resort is committed to service quality and professionalism. Accreditation plays an important role in the field of global competitiveness to gain the confidence of the international traveling community,” said Kelly Bird, ADB program manager.

Aside from focusing on the quality of facilities, the project will also zero in on the service, hospitality, efficiency, and food provided by the pilot hotels and resorts.

The accommodation establishments will also be graded according to their environmental practices, comparative review against international quality assurance systems, and overall guest experience from their arrival until their departure.

In getting an independent and official seal of assurance from DOT, hotel and resort owners will gain access to assisted skills programs; promotional support such as being included in DOT-accredited listings; technical assistance in planning, research, and development; as well as endorsement to relevant government departments for access to fiscal and non-fiscal incentives.

“Through the DOT’s new quality assurance and accreditation framework, we hope to motivate Philippine hotels and resorts as they strive to maintain and enhance the quality of their services and facilities,” said Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr.

“With a positive outlook for the Philippine travel and tourism industry, other industries from transportation to recreational and lodging facilities, cultural centers, and community-based handicraft businesses, and local attractions are expected to benefit from the program,” he added.

Big hotel players in Cebu have been embarking on various renovation programs to meet the global standards and acquire the new DOT star rating.

In earlier interviews, Hotel, Resort and Restaurant Association of Cebu president Cenelyn Manguilimotan said that HRRAC members are busy upgrading their facilities and services to stay relevant in the global tourism market, not only in preparation for the Southeast Asian economic integration and other international events but, more importantly, to meet the hotel experience expectations of travelers.

In 2013, the Philippines advanced by five levels in the world tourism competitiveness ratings, according to the World Economic Forum (WEF). The country ranked 81st among 130 countries surveyed in the WEF’s Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report and was also listed as the most improved country in the region, being the only Asean member that registered a significant improvement.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on May 10, 2014.

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