Freeman Cebu Business

Cebu strengthens appeal as prime ESL destination

Ehda M. Dagooc - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines — Cebu has solidified its resurgence in ESL (English as a Second Language) appeal by hosting over a hundred international education agents from five Asian countries.

According to the Department of Tourism (DOT-7), this is the largest ESL delegation to arrive in the region since 2010, when the Philippines began promoting education as a tourism product.

“This is a significant milestone in the evolution of Cebu as a prime ESL destination,” said Gelena Asis-Dimpas, DOT7 Chief Tourism Operations Officer.

The agents, from the key markets of Japan, China, Taiwan, Vietnam and South Korea, were inspecting ESL schools and accommodations in Cebu.

The delegation met with learning program providers, visiting points of interest and participated in planning and networking workshops scheduled last April 16-18.

Organized by the Cebu Association of Language Academies (CALA) in collaboration with DOT-7 alongside with partner-agencies like Bureau of Immigration and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority and the Province of Cebu, the tour carried the theme “Love the Philippines and Explore English in Cebu”.

Last Friday, April 19, 2024, Dimpas presented the region’s strategic direction for education tourism, emphasizing DOT7’s support to education service providers and plans for market expansion under its ESL7 and Edux7 Tourism programs.

Pursuant to the National Education Tourism Strategic Action Plan, the DOT has sustained assistance to the international education sector through continued presence in emerging markets, facilitating better travel connectivity to and from these markets, rationalization of the Special Student Permit fees, enforcement of safety standards, training of ESL teachers, and development of off-program tourism destinations.

The ESL7 Program, with proactive participation from CALA, particularly its DOT-accredited members, earned Cebu the top spot among English language learning destinations in the Philippines.

The country itself is ranked by the Lucerne-based EF Education First Group second only to Singapore among 23 Asian nations assessed for English proficiency. It holds the 20th spot on the global index for 2023.

“We look forward to an upward growth path for Cebu and Central Visayas where ESL is concerned. We have the tourism fundamentals in place and continue to improve on existing conditions,” Dimpas said.

During the recently concluded forum organized by The Freeman themed “Trends That Shape Cebu’s Tourism Landscape,” Dimpas revealed that aside from ESL, Cebu is now attracting other products in the education tourism segment, these are the Aviation Education, Maritime Education, and Tropical Culinary Education.

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