DOT assures competency of tourism workforce

    DOT Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat. (Photo collage: Malaya Business Insight)

    To ensure that the nation’s tourism-related labor force stays competitive in this cross-border playing field, the Department of Tourism said it has conducted activities to promote competency-based training, assessment and certification guided by benchmarks dubbed “Asean Toolboxes.”

    Developed to support the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Common Competency Standards for Tourism Professionals and the Common Asean Tourism Curriculum, the free toolboxes cover 242 competencies across six labor divisions: housekeeping, food and beverage service, food production, front office, travel agency services and tour operator services.

    Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, DOT Secretary, announced the development during the 3rd International Conference on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Mutual Recognition Arrangement on Tourism Professionals (Asean MRA-TP) which the DOT hosted last week.

    The event is expected to largely influence the agency’s tourism response and recovery plan, particularly the human resource component.

    “We reaffirm our commitment not only to our Philippine tourism stakeholders but to our colleagues in the Asean through this conference, with its aim to raise awareness of the MRA-TP and equip ASEAN tourism professionals for restarting in the new normal,” Puyat said.

    This year’s conference featured industry experts from the 10 Asean member states who shared their respective countries’ response and recovery programs for tourism professionals against the coronavirus pandemic, with His Excellency Dato’ Paduka Lim Jock Hoi, secretary general of the Asean Secretariat.

    Under the MRA-TP, Filipino workers who meet the standards set by the Asean can apply for jobs in Asean member countries and vice versa.

    The online conference likewise commemorated the 53rd founding anniversary of the Asean.

    It was divided into three sessions: Looking Back: The Asea Mutual Recognition Arrangement on Tourism Professionals – 10 Years After, Transitioning to the New Normal in Asean MRA-TP Labor Divisions, and Rebooting – Reskilling – Reinventing the Filipino Tourism Professionals.

    “Trust that the DOT is one with our industry stakeholders and our counterparts in Asean in overcoming this crisis. The difficulties we are facing right now shall not deter us from fulfilling our mission to ensure that our industry recovers in a secure, inclusive, and sustainable way,” Puyat said.

    For his part, Dato Lim said tourism is one of the hardest hit sectors amid the pandemic and its recovery is a key paradigm in the Asean, ensuring that it continues to play its vital role as generators of incomes and a major source of jobs for countries in this region.

    He mentioned the importance of implementing cross-border measures, such as the travel bubbles or travel corridors, as stepping stones for the region’s recovery.

    The tourism sector is urging to get all regions back to business at this point, Dato Lim added, by facilitating essential business travel and restoring confidence among travelers.

    He stressed that the region should strengthen cooperation, innovate and adapt to a new normal.

    The conference presented opportunities to not only exchange information and best practices among ASEAN member states and industry stakeholders, “but also support each other in a result to navigate current difficulties and recover faster and stronger,” he said.

    There is no success without perseverance, Dato Lim pointed out, noting there is no better time to prepare and plan the future than now.

    “Improving and upgrading your professional skills would definitely be a sustainable solution to the current crisis,” he added.

    Dato Lim also encourages a change in behavior and mindset, saying this can make recovery in the tourism sector possible.

    He urged tourism professionals to rethink how to make the tourism sector better and more resilient in a new normal.