Schools asked to include Russian as elective course to boost tourism

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Friday, July 18, 2014


IN ANTICIPATION of the influx of Russian tourists to the Philippines, Russian Federation Honorary Consul Armi Garcia is planning to tap schools and universities here to offer Russian language as an elective course, especially for tourism-related and nursing courses.

Garcia said it is crucial to teach even the basics of Russian language because this will help entice what is considered a long-staying and high-spending market to pick the Philippines as a vacation destination over other countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) region.

“For tourism, it will enable our frontliners to better understand them and respond immediately should there be emergency situations. For nursing students, learning the basic Russian language will be their edge if they choose to work in Russian hospitals,” she said.

Nursing aides

Garcia said a government-owned 500-bed hospital in St. Petersburg is interested in hiring Filipino nursing aides.

Evgeny Marchenko, deputy of the Legislative Assembly of St. Petersburg, visited the Philippines last year and met with key government officials in Cebu. He expressed interest in putting up a program to ensure the proper deployment of Filipino workers to Russia, in accordance with Philippine and Russian laws.

He said Russia needs physicians, nurses, medical attendants, caregivers, housing maintenance and utilities workers, construction workers, airplane pilots, among other professions.

He said that in the medical sector alone, there are more than 8,000 vacant positions. Prior to deployment, however, workers need to be trained on the Russian language and culture.

The Philippine-Russia Business Assembly, in coordination with the Department of Tourism (DOT), piloted the Russian Language and Culture Course in Cebu for tourism industry workers at the University of Southern Philippines. The program already had 15 graduates.

Today, Garcia said they will recognize another 15 tourism workers from Bohol, the second batch to complete the language and culture course.

Tourism frontliners went through a 60-hour basic Russian language course. The program was a follow-up activity after the “Meet Russia” forum held in Cebu, which was meant to introduce the Russian market to the Philippine tourism industry.

The Russian Consulate here also set up a Russian corner at the University of San Carlos, which features Russian books and other works.

Arrivals

DOT records show that Russian tourist arrivals grew by 25.2 percent from 28,270 in 2012 to 35,404 in 2013. Recognizing the importance of this market to the country’s tourism growth, the Philippine government has granted Russian tourists a free visa extension from 21 days to 30 days.

Central Visayas welcomed 5,930 Russian tourists in the first quarter this year.

After Cebu and Bohol, Garcia said she plans to bring the “Meet Russia” forum to Dipolog City, after which, she will offer the Russian Language and Culture Course to its tourism workforce.

Garcia said she plans to position Dipolog City as a retirement destination for Russians because it has a “good blend” of nature, history and sea food.

A 16-man delegation from the Manila and Cebu recently went to Russia, particularly Moscow and St. Petersburg, to explore business opportunities.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 19, 2014.

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