Better quality standards await tourists in PHL

Filipino Jamie Herrell (C) reacts as she is crowned to be the bet to this year's Miss Earth, during coronation night at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay city, south of Manila, Philippines, 11 May 2014. (MNS photo)

Filipino Jamie Herrell (C) reacts as she is crowned to be the bet to this year’s Miss Earth, during coronation night at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay city, south of Manila, Philippines, 11 May 2014. (MNS photo)

Travelers to the Philippines will soon be guided with a globally-accepted quality standards for tourism enterprises. Starting this May 2014, international accommodation assessors will be testing the quality standards introduced by the Department of Tourism (DOT) in 2013 to ensure that they adhere to global practices.

The Hotel and Resorts Quality Assurance and Accreditation System is an objective and internationally recognized guide that seeks to assist visitors in terms of the quality, service, and comfort provided by accommodation businesses of all sizes and types in the Philippines. The system, launched last year, will be applied and tested in 155 hotels and resorts located in the country’s main tourist destinations: Cebu, Bohol, Davao, and Palawan. If successful in the pilot areas, DOT will consider an expansion nationwide.

Forming part of the Philippines Improving Competitiveness in Tourism program, the international assessment is one of the outputs identified in the US$7.1-million assistance funded by the Government of Canada and administered by the Asian Development Bank. The project also focuses on assisting local governments to reduce red tape affecting businesses operating in the tourism sector and rolling out a tourism industry skills development program.

Under the Hotel and Resorts Quality Assurance and Accreditation System, DOT recruited 10 International Assessors (IAs) who will undergo an orientation, along with DOT Area Officers and industry third party auditors, on the new standards to prepare for joint pilot assessments. Apart from focusing on quality over and above the provision of facilities, the project will also zero in on the service, hospitality, efficiency, and food provided by the pilot hotels and resorts. Accommodations will also be graded according to their environmental practices, comparative review against international quality assurance systems, and overall guest experience from their arrival until their departure.

In getting an independent and official seal of assurance from DOT, hotel and resort owners will gain access to assisted manpower skills programs; promotional support such as being included in DOT-accredited listings; technical assistance in planning, research, and development; as well as favorable endorsement to relevant government departments for access to fiscal and non-fiscal incentives.

Beyond supporting private accommodations businesses, the Philippine tourism industry is poised to benefit from the Hotel and Resorts Quality Assurance and Accreditation System. “Through tourism accreditation, local and foreign visitors can be assured that their hotel or resort is committed to service quality and professionalism. Accreditation plays an important role in the field of global competitiveness to gain the confidence of the international travelling community,” ADB Program Manager Kelly Bird said.

In 2013, the Philippines advanced by five levels in world tourism competitiveness ratings, according to the World Economic Forum (WEF). The country ranked 81st among 130 countries surveyed in the WEF’s Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report and was also listed as the most improved country in the region, being the only ASEAN member registering a significant improvement.

“Through the DOT’s new quality assurance and accreditation framework, we hope to motivate Philippine hotels and resorts as they strive to maintain and enhance the quality of their services and facilities. The Philippines Improving Competitiveness in Tourism is designed to assist the government’s tourism roadmap of reaching the 10 million tourist arrivals by 2016. With a positive outlook for the Philippine travel and tourism industry, other industries from transportation to recreational and lodging facilities, cultural centers, and community-based handicraft businesses, and local attractions are expected to benefit from the said program,” Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez, Jr. said.

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