UN proposes Tourism Academy in Cebu

UN proposes Tourism Academy in Cebu
SunStar Cebu Province MapFile photo

THE United Nations (UN) Tourism has proposed the establishment of a UN-backed Tourism Academy for Excellence on Tourism Education and Gastronomy, among others, in the Philippines.

In a press conference on Friday, June 28, 2024, UN Tourism Secretary-General Zurab Polikashvili told the reporters that he identified the Philippines, particularly Cebu, as the potential location for the center, citing the positive remarks on Filipino hospitality following the conduct of the 36th Joint Meeting UN Tourism Commission for East Asia and the Pacific and the UN Tourism Commission for South Asia at the Sheraton Cebu Mactan, Punta Engaño, Lapu-Lapu City.

This was also about Cebu’s successful hosting of the first-ever UN Tourism Regional Forum on Gastronomy Tourism for Asia and the Pacific last Wednesday, June 26.

Polikashvili noted the warm hospitality of the Filipinos during the two UN events.

There was a demand to train a tourism-based workforce in the Philippines and Cebu particularly for tourism-related education courses, Polikashvili said.

He said the Philippines’ tourism industry contributes significantly to the country’s economy, and through education it can be maximized.

“This idea was raised two days ago (June 26); we have yet to send a formal proposal. There will be two to three different scenarios,” Polikashvili said.

“Definitely we have a local partner, maybe based on an existing tourist academy or a new one. It will take time, of course, and I mean it’s a long process,” he added.

In response, Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Christina Frasco welcomed the partnership, seeing this as a way to alleviate tourism education in the Philippines and adopt global tourism trends and demands.

Advantages

“We immediately accepted the proposal knowing that it can expand human capital development for our tourism on one hand and also expand our landscape and talents for our Filipino chefs,” Frasco said.

Frasco pointed out that the tourism sector employed more than six million Filipinos.

She said that one of the programs benefiting from the partnership is the DOT’s Filipino Brand of Service Excellence program, which has already been rolled out in all regions.

She said the program has institutionalized the Filipino brand of hospitality based on seven core values, and that the UN-backed training offers economic opportunities for tourism workers to enhance their skills in handling tourists and improve retention.

She said the proposal could elevate the level of ability of the country’s chefs that will promote gastronomy tourism, especially with the collaboration of DOT and the Basque Culinary Center, a world-renowned culinary school.

Frasco said the agency also has its own Tourism Industry Skills Training Program, which provides training to open up employment and livelihood opportunities, including culinary, tour guides, lifeguards and tourism-related skills.

She added that DOT has teamed up with the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) to provide training for returning overseas Filipino workers who wish to permanently work or invest in the country’s tourism sector.

The DOT also opened up a possible partnership with UN Tourism for specific tourism investment guidelines to formulate an investment framework for each member delegation in attracting investors.

This investment framework is seen to expand tourism infrastructures, accommodation and hospitality industry and tourism value chain.

Over 500 international delegates from 30 countries in Asia and the Pacific gathered for the two UN Tourism events held in Cebu.

Countries include Afghanistan, Argentina, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei, Cameroon, Chile, China, Fiji, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, Lao PDR, Macao, Malaysia, Maldives, Mongolia, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, Singapore, South Korea and Spain. / EHP

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