DOT considers Cebu as RP’s ESL hub

By: Irene R. Sino Cruz July 29,2019 - 03:30 PM

Tourism Undersecretary Benito Bengzon Jr. (center) says that the ongoing Philippine Education Tourism Conference will provide inputs towards creating a clear and competitive Philippine Education Tourism brand. Also in photo are DOT-7 Regional Director Shahlimar Hofer Tamano (left) and Eurena Geralla, president of English Philippines Association Inc. | Irene R. Sino Cruz

CEBU CITY —The Department of Tourism recognizes Cebu as the country’s hub for English as a Second Language (ESL) companies.

Undersecretary Benito Bengzon Jr. made this disclosure during the press conference held at the sidelines of the first-ever Philippine Education Tourism Conference (PETC). 

“The choice of Cebu as the venue for the first PETC “is a very strong testament of the drawing power of Cebu,” Bengzon said. 

The undersecretary also explained that the presence of the Mactan Cebu International Airport Terminal 2 made Cebu as an ideal ESL location. 

“Air access is very important,” he added.

In addition, Bengzon noted that Cebu’s capacity to absorb as one of its advantage as an ESL location.

“Because as you get more mainstream tourists and ESL students, obviously you want more accommodation facilities,” he pointed out.

According to Bengzon, Cebu has been attracting ESL students from Korea, China and Japan.

The tourism department has expanded the ESL source markets to include Russia, Thailand and soon Europe, he said.

Read more: Cebu continues to attract outsourcing, ESL firms — Colliers International

The Philippines has comparative advantage in ESL over other Asian countries because of several factors, the undersecretary said.

“The Philippines is the third largest English-speaking country in Asia and about 93.5 percent of its population speak and understand English,” said Bengzon. “In the TOIEC (Test of English for International Communication), the mean score of the Philippines is 710, placing 10th worldwide and highest among Asian countries.”

The country also continues to lead the scores for the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) with a mean score of 6.8 in the academic category and 6.2 in General training, placing third to Germany and United Kingdom.

The Filipino teachers were also known as naturally nurturing, patient and understanding, Bengzon said. 

Shahlimar Hofer Tamano, Department of Tourism in Central Visayas director, said that the region had 165 ESL schools registered with the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA). 

He added that DOT had accredited 16 of these schools.

The 3-day conference features local and international speakers who will share information on where the Philippines stands as a Study English destination and what can be done to improve offerings to the source markets.

The tourism department also encouraged local ESL schools to offer structured tour packages to ESL learners by incorporating English-learning activities in the travel experience, Bengzon added./dbs

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