THE Department of Tourism (DOT) 7 wants to accredit more tourism establishments this year, following the order from the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) for business owners to secure accreditation first before operating.
DOT 7 Director Shahlimar Tamano said they aim to accredit 941 enterprises in the region through the help of their mobile accreditation caravan program.
Last year, the DOT 7 accredited 749 primary and secondary tourism enterprises in the region.
“The aim is to maintain international standards of excellence in all tourism facilities and services in the country,” said Tamano.
He added this will also help promote the country as a safe and wholesome tourism destination.
The DOT 7 chief said two accreditation teams are now in Sta. Fe in Bantayan and in Mactan island conducting mobile accreditation seminars.
Carlo Suarez, president of the Hotel, Resort and Restaurant Association of Cebu, welcomed the DILG’s order, saying this will benefit the industry in terms of running businesses with high quality standards.
Suarez said this is important for those that want to capture the international market. He added this will also make guests feel secure, safe and comfortable, knowing that they are staying in an establishment that adheres to the standards imposed by the government.
The DOT accreditation is a certificate issued by the department recognizing the holder as having complied with its minimum standards in the operation of the establishment. It also ensures the safety, comfort and convenience of the tourist.
In a memorandum circular, released by the DILG, the agency reiterated the need for hospitality establishments to secure DOT accreditation for the issuance of a license or permit to operate from the local government units (LGUs).
The mandate is covered under the implementing rules and regulations of Republic Act 9593 or the Tourism Act of 2009.
Under the circular signed by DILG chief Eduardo Año, LGUs are mandated to ensure that all primary tourism establishments (PET) and other accommodation establishments have complied with and have obtained DOT accreditation before operations.
The circular warned that concerned LGUs will be notified by the DOT of failure of compliance of respective PETs and will have to issue closure orders should PETs fail to comply.
The DOT 7 is yet to determine the number of establishments not yet accredited with them.
Judy Gabato, who heads the DOT 7 Accreditation Department, said they are still in the process of gathering details of establishments that are fit for accreditation in the region.
Gabato clarified that the DOT accreditation is already a requirement under the Tourism Act of 2009. Unfortunately, not all LGUs are implementing it.
But she said there are plenty of perks and non-fiscal incentives given to tourism establishments accredited with the DOT.
According to the DOT website, the benefits and incentives of accreditation include endorsement to embassies and travel trade associations for use of an establishment’s facilities and services, eligibility for participation in travel fairs, priority in DOT training programs, endorsement to international airports for issuance of access pass to qualified personnel, endorsements to the Commission on Elections for exemption from liquor ban during election-related events, free online/print advertising in national dailies, and promotion of events on the DOT’s Facebook page and other social-media sites.
“What we really hope is for LGUs to adopt and really implement the law,” said Gabato.
DOT accreditation fees depend on the classification and type of the tourism establishment.
Under the Tourism Act of 2009, the DOT is mandated to enforce “a comprehensive system of mandatory accreditation for primary tourism enterprises and voluntary accreditation for secondary tourism enterprises.” Under primary tourism enterprises are hotels, resorts, and other accommodation establishments, travel and tour services, tourist transport services, tour guides and tourism frontliners, sports and recreational facilities, Mice (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) facilities and tourism estate management services.
Those that belong under the voluntary accreditation are health and wellness services like spas, and other tourism related enterprises like agri-tourism sites, shopping or specialty shops, galleries, museums, restaurants, tourism entertainment complexes and recreational facilities, and training centers or institutes.