THE Department of Tourism (DOT) is working with the Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) to help returning overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) become tour guides, especially for non-English speaking tourists visiting the country.
Tourism Undersecretary for regulation, coordination and resource generation Alma Jimenez, during a recent visit to Cebu, said they are going to start the reintegration program for OFWs to become effective tour guides, particularly those who speak foreign languages.
Abroad, OFWs are the country’s tourism ambassadors as they showcase Filipino culture and hospitality, Jimenez pointed out. Once they come home, they can be tourism assets in helping the country take better care of foreign visitors.
The DOT official admitted it would be easier for the agency to tap and train returning OFWs as they already know some foreign languages and cultures, rather than train existing tour guides in various languages, such as Chinese and Japanese.
This opportunity could also help returning OFWs land jobs here once they decide not to return abroad for work.
Robust OFW remittances remain one of the country’s strongest pillars for economic growth. Money sent by OFWs fuels growth in consumption, retail, business, education, health and real estate, among other sectors.
7,000 trained so far
To get the country’s workforce ready for the growing tourism market, Jimenez also said they have intensified training programs by coordinating more closely with the academe and working on improving services standards.
Last year, Jimenez said, the agency implemented 150 training projects that benefited close to 7,000 people in the tourism industry.
“We are on track to surpass this in 2017,” she said, adding that there are new modules that will be introduced such as tourism enterprise development, Filipino brand of service, security, safety and crisis management trainings.
The DOT has also partnered with the Department of Trade and Industry in terms of providing support to entrepreneurs who want to invest in any tourism business.
The convergence of these two agencies will pave the way for the DOT to showcase various products of the Philippines in DTI showrooms, while the DTI will also promote Philippine destinations and tour packages.
The Philippines hopes to welcome at least 12 million foreign tourists by 2022 and spur domestic tourism by attracting 89.2 million local tourists. By end of the Duterte administration, the DOT’s target is to generate 6.5 million jobs in tourism alone. (KOC)
Published in the SunStar Cebu newspaper on July 10, 2017.
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