Travel bans hit ESL institutions

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    Even with travel restrictions still in effect worldwide, the Philippines is confident of maintaining its position as one of the leading study-English destinations in the global arena by shifting these services online.

    Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat of the Department of Tourism (DOT) in a webinar on July 10 said the agency is working with stakeholders on the enhancement of educators’ skills and in exploring ways to promote the country’s offerings for English as a Second Language (ESL).

    “The students who have come here have returned to their home countries for now. While travel restrictions brought by the COVID-19 pandemic have affected the growth of the ESL industry, we know we can take back the gains we have achieved,” said Puyat in her opening remarks.

    Puyat also said the DOT is closely working with the private sector and stakeholders in developing the official guidelines on health and safety protocols for the implementation of ESL schools once they are allowed to open by authorities.

    Puyat said years of developing ESL as a key educational tourism product and market expansion efforts have lured students from foreign countries to the Philippines to learn English mostly coming from Asia, the Middle East, and non-English speaking countries of Europe.

    “One of our key education tourism products before the pandemic the ESL market was a significant contributor to the country’s tourism industry with the Philippines fast becoming a preferred destination of international students around the world who come to Manila, Cebu and Baguio,” Puyat said.

    Cebu alone hosts 108 ESL centers, making the province, a primary ESL center.

    ESL,is classified under Education Tourism, a “niche” product of the DOT based on the National Tourism Development Plan 2016-2022.

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