The Tourism Industry Board Foundation Inc. (TIBFI) is a tripartite body composed of representatives from the government, private and labor sectors, geared towards providing manpower development in various tourism enterprises. It advocates that industrial training and manpower development should be industry-led, as they are the direct beneficiaries, with government serving as support to fast-track such development and skills training through the provision of incentives.
The 4th TIBFI Human Resource Congress took place at the new, centrally located Grand Xing Imperial Hotel in Iloilo City, attracting approximately 500 participants across the country. There were meaningful discussions on issues and factors that influence entrepreneurship and employment in tourism establishments. The event’s goal was to upgrade knowledge and skills of those involved in the Tourism Industry, and to examine management practices dealing with human resources, towards achieving sustainable outcomes.
The three-day congress featured a two-day re-training program on tourism skills, to align practices with the ASEAN Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) for Tourism Professionals and the ASEAN Qualifications Reference Framework (AQRF). It also included toolbox immersion programs divided into five clusters: housekeeping, front office, food and beverage, cookery, and travel services.
The third day had very interesting dialogues on management practices in human resources that lead to sustainable outcomes, with presentations on various HR practices, and panel discussions on relevant issues that affect the Industry.
Ed Vitug, general manager of The Bayleaf Intramuros and The Bayleaf Cavite, shared with us the brand created by the two hotels providing a conducive environment for students to learn and contribute meaningfully. The hotels came up with a LEAP Program (Learn, Enable, Acquire, Progress), which students, on their internship, go through, to prepare them for jobs in the outside world.
Dr. Jerry Lego, head, School Governance and Operations Division of DepEd-Iloilo, discussed the different factors affecting senior high school students’ employability and perceptions of the tourism industry. Their required 80-hour immersion in the industry makes them familiar with the workplace, experience work simulation, and apply competencies in their areas of specialization.
Narzalina Lim, former tourism secretary, being the straightforward and astute educator that she is, centered her discussion only on three basic questions –-What do you want your students to know? What do you want them to do? And what do you want them to be? – with answers to these given by members of the audience who cited varying priorities, making the discussion livelier and more in-depth.
Tourism Undersecretary for Regulation, Coordination and Resource Generation Alma Rita Jimenez also had a very interesting talk, announcing that in 2022, the country is expected to welcome 12 million visitors. In fact, this year’s January to June visitor arrivals show a 12.73 percent increase over the same period last year. This certainly means an increase in the country’s tourism workforce, which registered 5.2 million employees last year.
In its efforts to standardize Filipino hospitality and service, DOT embarked on the development of “The Filipino Brand of Service,” envisioned to represent everything good and positive about Filipino hospitality that can be used by all tourism stakeholders in dealing with domestic and international visitors.
Beyond the experience of breathtaking sites that tourists get, service excellence becomes a regional brand and a holistic national identity. The Filipino values that come to fore are MakaDiyos (Godly), Makatao (hospitable), Makakalikasan (nature-lover), Makabayan (patriotic), Masayahin (has sense of humor), May Bayanihan (has sense of cooperation), and May Pag-asa (resilient and hopeful).
Through this newly developed brand, tourism front liners will be able to demonstrate the core values in whichever industry they work for, as they imbibe excellent customer service skills, and be familiar with the communication process. Barriers to communication and effective communication tools have to be used as techniques in handling customer concerns.
The congress succeeded in sharing ways to bridge the gap between the tourism industry and the country’s education/training sectors, and examine factors and issues that influence human resource development in the Industry.
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