Cebu hosts ESL fam tour; DOT 7 to tap new ESL markets

Business.(Business File photo)

CEBU welcomed over 100 international education agents from five Asian countries for a five-day ESL (English as Second Language) familiarization tour in the province.

Agents from Japan, China, Taiwan, Vietnam and South Korea inspected ESL schools and accommodations in Cebu. They also underwent planning and networking workshops, according to the Department of Tourism (DOT) 7.

DOT 7 chief tourism operations officer Gelena Asis-Dimpas described the event as “a significant milestone in the evolution of Cebu as a prime ESL destination.”

Organized by the Cebu Association of Language Academies (Cala), the Grand ESL (English as a Second Language) International Familiarization Tour is said to be the biggest of its kind since the Philippines launched education as a tourism product in 2010.

The event carries the theme “Love the Philippines and Explore English in Cebu” and is in collaboration with DOT 7, the Bureau of Immigration and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority and Cebu Province.

Cebu is a top destination among English language learning destinations in the Philippines. The country itself is ranked by the Lucerne-based EF Education First Group second only to Singapore among 23 Asian nations assessed for English proficiency. It holds the 20th spot on the global index for 2023.

Market expansion

On Friday, April 19, 2024, Dimpas presented the region’s strategic direction for education tourism, emphasizing DOT 7’s support to education service providers and plans for market expansion under its ESL 7 and Edux 7 Tourism programs.

According to Dimpas, ESL 7 is looking to intensify its promotion programs in Mongolia, Thailand and the Middle East.

Cebu draws an estimated 50,000 ESL students annually.

Pursuant to the National Education Tourism Strategic Action Plan, the DOT has sustained assistance to the international education sector through a continued presence in emerging markets, facilitating better travel connectivity to and from these markets, rationalization of the Special Student Permit fees, enforcement of safety standards, training of ESL teachers and development of off-program tourism destinations.

“We look forward to an upward growth path for Cebu and Central Visayas where ESL is concerned. We have the tourism fundamentals in place and continue to improve on existing conditions,” Dimpas said.

In August last year, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’ issued a directive to the Department of Foreign Affairs to simplify and standardize the application process for international students seeking to pursue their studies in the Philippines.

This measure is seen to boost the education tourism sector, according to the Private Sector Advisory Council (PSAC) for Tourism.

PSAC lead convener and Aboitiz Group president and chief executive officer Sabin Aboitiz, in a statement said, this concerted effort will help reinforce the Philippines’ position as a leading educational tourism hub as it involves a multifaceted approach, including partnerships, cultural promotion, and improved education quality, to attract and retain international students, scholars, and travelers seeking enriching experiences in the country.

“Ultimately, we aim to establish the Philippines as the preferred choice for academic excellence and a unique cultural experience,” Aboitiz said. / KOC


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