PHL could start deployment of tourism workers next year under ASEAN deal, says DOT exec

GENERAL SANTOS CITY, March 24 (PNA) — The Department of Tourism (DOT) is planning to start the deployment by next year of tourism workers to key areas in Southeast Asia as part of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) economic integration initiatives.

Arturo Boncato Jr., DOT assistant secretary for Mindanao operations, said they have laid out various measures to fast track the accreditation or certification and assessment of tourism workers in connection with implementation in 2015 of the ASEAN Mutual Recognition Arrangement on Tourism Professionals.

The agreement, a significant component in the ASEAN economic community’s integration efforts, will mainly allow the free movement of tourism professionals within the region starting next year.

Boncato said the agency has tapped the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority as the main certifying body for tourism workers who take part in the program.

He said the DOT has partnered with the Tourism Congress of the Philippines, a private sector consultative body, for the assessment of tourism-related training institutions in the country.

“All these are already in place so hopefully by 2015, we can be able to already certify some workers who can be sent to the nine countries,” he said.

He was referring to the nine other members-countries of the 10-nation ASEAN, which comprises the Philippines, Myammar, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Cambodia, Vietnam, Singapore, Laos and Brunei Darussalam.

Under the arrangement, the official said ASEAN will establish a secretariat or a central body that would process the manpower needs of its member-countries.

He said countries needing workers will have to inform their requirements to the secretariat, which will then coordinate with other member-countries and process the deployment of the workers.

Owing to this, Boncato said tourism appears to be the most ready industry in the country so far for the ASEAN integration.

“To begin with, ASEAN has been always looking for Filipino workers. And even now, without the integration, we already have workers settled or deployed in key areas within the ASEAN,” he said.

Boncato said Mindanao can take advantage of such opportunity by sustaining the quality of tourism workers coming from the area.

He said tourism stakeholders should also make sure that tourism-related training institutions in the island are properly updated with the international standards.

“(Mindanao) can become a key player in this arrangement since we already have a ready pool of quality tourism workers,” he said.(PNA)