Thursday, July 18, 2019

‘Bonds formed with foreign students promote tourism’

STAYING COMPETITIVE. Learning English is fun in Cebu, which is why many Koreans, Japanese, and now Taiwanese enrol in English as a second langage courses in Cebu, said Department of Tourism 7 Director Shahlimar Tamano. (SunStar Photo/Amper Campaña)

BESIDES enjoying a steady rise in foreign students from Korea and Japan, Cebu is also becoming an attractive English as a second language (ESL) destination among Taiwanese students, the Department of Tourism 7 said.

DOT 7 Director Shahlimar Tamano, on Friday, May 31, 2019, said this progress cements Cebu’s footing as a preferred ESL destination, particularly in Asia.

He noted that Cebu remains competitive because of the presence of direct flights to other Asian countries, which only take at least five hours of travel.

Cebuanos, he added, are also sociable and hospitable, and they have the technical know-how to teach English.

Cebu is a dominant ESL player in the Philippines. It first offered services to Koreans, and eventually diversified to include other non-English speaking markets like Japan.

Its proximity to the beaches, presence of direct flights to Asian destinations, cheaper ESL rates and highly qualified English teachers make the province attractive to non-English-speaking students.

Tamano said ESL is an important segment in tourism because it deepens the connection between Cebu and other foreign markets through education.

“A bond with the school is formed, inspiring the foreign students to keep coming back. And this is good for tourism,” said Tamano. “Their coming here to learn English means they are ambitious and that they want to become big someday.”

There are at least 100 ESL schools in Cebu offering online and offline English courses.

A foreign student studying in Cebu is granted by the Bureau of Immigration a special student permit.

An ESL student normally stays for at least a week for an ESL course, while some stay in the country for three months.

Some of these ESL players, according to Tamano, have made their marketing efforts impressive to foreign students.

He said some own and operate motor bancas that take students to weekend getaways, while some have invested in various amenities like gyms and swimming pools to provide a complete leisure and educational offering.

To improve Cebu’s stature in the ESL global market, Tamano announced that the province will play host to the first National ESL Convention in July 2019.

Tamano said the convention aims to gather players in the ESL community across the country to share best practices and determine industry concerns so the government can assist them properly.

The DOT earlier announced that it will be securing the future of the country’s ESL program to continuously attract new foreign students to learn the language in the country.

DOT Undersecretary Benito Bengzon Jr. said the agency will be unveiling the ESL roadmap which will chart the direction of the country’s programs and promotional efforts to cement its standing as the leading ESL destination in Asia.

“We will soon roll out a roadmap for education tourism, specifically for ESL, for which Cebu is a top-notch destination among different markets,” said Bengzon.


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