THE Department of Tourism (DOT) 7 said it will provide homestay training in identified facilities in Cebu in preparation for the International Eucharistic Congress (IEC) next year.

In an interview, DOT 7 Director Rowena Montecillo said that some participants of the congress, particularly religious workers, might opt to stay in cheaper accommodations like homestay facilities, prompting the DOT to provide the homeowners with training on the homestay program so they can give guests a quality tourism experience.

She said it is the organizing committee of the IEC that will identify the homestay facilities and that the DOT’s training will be provided even to the staff of facilities that have not been accredited yet by the agency.

Homestays are a living arrangement with a host family or organization that offers an extra private room or space for an out-of-town guest for a reasonable charge. The host family or group offers the guests “a home away from home”.

“We will be teaching the homeowners and their staff the basic skills in handling guests as well as trainings on safety and security, cleanliness, housekeeping, among others...so that the guests will have a wonderful experience during their stay in Cebu,” said Montecillo.

City hotels, on the other hand, are also gearing up for the IEC scheduled in January 2016.

Karen Mendoza, executive assistant manager of Quest Hotel, in a separate interview, disclosed that as early as now they have been getting booking inquiries for January next year.

The 51st IEC in January 2016 is expected to draw 15,000 participants, excluding spectators.

The IEC is a gathering of Catholics from around the world. The theme is “Christ in You, our Hope of Glory” and aims to instill the concept of hope amidst fighting in certain nations.

“So far we have enough supply of rooms. But again, this will all depend; if the IEC committee will announce Pope Francis’s participation in the congress, then I think we would need more rooms,” said Montecillo.

January is already a peak season for Cebu because of Sinulog, when local tourists and balikbayans come to Cebu to pay homage to the Sto. Niño and celebrate the week-long festival.

The DOT expects a spike in arrivals in Cebu from January to February next year, higher than the 550,452 it logged this year, because of the IEC 2016.