CEBU CITY, PHILIPPINES – Twenty-six Philippine hotels, resorts, and various tourism industry associations have received skills development grants to upgrade the quality of services of their respective tourism workers.
The grants scheme program, established by the Department of Tourism, forms part of the Improving Competitiveness in Tourism project administered by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and funded by the Government of Canada. Launched in 2013, the $7.1-million technical assistance was designed to support the government’s effort to achieve inclusive growth and create employment opportunities in tourism.
Chosen from the country’s main tourism destinations, the awardees are based in Bohol, Cebu, Davao, and Palawan, which serve as the program’s pilot areas. Under the program, which will run for 38 months, various accommodation enterprises submitted proposals to help fund their skills training programs. These include food and beverage preparation and service, front office, personality development, housekeeping, and leisure and entertainment activities.
“We welcome this technical assistance as it complements our National Tourism Development Plan, which targets to increase tourism revenue, employment, and arrivals to aid in job creation and poverty reduction. Our collaboration with the Asian Development Bank and the Government of Canada for this grants scheme program proves that international institutions recognize the role of tourism as a key driver of  economic development in the country,” Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr. said.
The Improving Competitiveness in Tourism project aims to deliver three outputs, namely:, assisting local governments to reduce red tape affecting businesses operating in the tourism sector; support to industry to  raise standards through DOT’s new hotel and resorts quality assurance and accreditation framework; and tourism industry skills development program.
“In recent years, the Philippine tourism industry has undoubtedly grown to become a major source of quality jobs in the country,” Kelly Bird, Principal Economist in the Southeast Asia Department at ADB. “With the booming tourism industry, we recognize that a better skilled workforce is needed as it will lead to quality services.”
Underscoring the Filipinos’ innate hospitality and the country’s availability of exquisite tourist spots, Mr. Birdsaid that the Philippines has all the potential to become an international travel destination. “Through the Improving Competitiveness in Tourism program, we hope to capitalize on these assets and prove to the world that it is indeed more fun in the Philippines,” he added.
In 2013, the Philippines advanced by five rungs in the world tourism competitiveness ratings, ranking 81st among 130 countries surveyed in the World Economic Forum’s Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report. The Philippines was also listed as the most improved country in the region, being the only ASEAN nation registering a significant improvement.
The 26 tourism industry players awarded form the first batch of grantees under the Improving Competitiveness in Tourism grant scheme. DOT said the program will be rolled out nationally should it become successful in the pilot areas.

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