Tourism Secretary Â Ramon Jimenez Jr, is fully aware that Philippine tourism -has no choice but Â must go “world-class” and compete especially with the forthcoming ASEAN Integration beginning 2015 -2020 (full integration).
Beginning this year, 10 ASEAN nations will free their doors to one another – in terms of taxes and liberal travel paper entries, increasing competition but widening the Philippine market as well. These countries include Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar and the Philippines.
Secretary Jimenez said that because of this – the Aquino Government has invested a total of P54-Billion worth of tourism related roads during its five year term year to date. This is apart from the various airports and sea ports that will benefit tourism including the P7.2 Billion New Panglao International Airport.
“This is the first time that Tourism has its own Road Budget” he disclosed and that this is doneÂ with theÂ coordination with the DPWH (Department of Public Works and Highways). Secretary Singson of the DPWH said that “both the DOT and DPWH have their respective technical committees who agree on which locations to develop. Once both committees agree, the work starts immediately because there is a budget.”
TRAINING BENEFITS SOUTH PALMS RESORT PANGLAOÂ
Part of these effortsÂ towards going “world class” is for the DOT to engage with the private sector in helping trainÂ their staff and amenities attain a status that can compete with anyone in the globe. One of the major beneficiaries in Bohol has been theÂ South Palms Resort Panglao of the expansive Alturas Group of Companies.
According to South Palms Marietta “Mayette” Sarabia-Gasatan, because of the DOT- driven training program, the South Palms Resort raised revenues in all fronts by more than 100% from the previous comparative time. Among the areas covered by the DOT- ADB -Canada Tourism IndustryÂ Skills Training program grant run by the renowned Enderun College were: Â International Cuisine, Asian Cuisine, Patisseries/Pastry Arts, Wine and Wine Service, and Food Safety/Serve Safe.
According to Gasatan the Â 2nd grant training by Enderun College beginning August 15 will cover: Â (1) front office and Reception Skills Development (2) Events Planning Skills Training (3) Basic Language (Chinese) (4) Â Beverage Skills and Service Procedure (5) Advance Â Food and Beverage Waiter and Butler Skills Training.
This is expected to boost further the resort’s competitive edge in the coming years.
SOUTH PALMS MAKES ITS MARK
South Palms Resort Panglao remains one of the select few resorts in Panglao that is nestled along the half mile of white sand in the area- the longest in the entire island, draped byÂ a montage of green- housing 90 tastefully- architectured rooms and villas done by local craftsmen with the Boholano heritage in mind.
Visitors continue to marvel at the exquisite food servings in the resort whose main open secret is the fact that most of their ingredients are shipped daily from their own farms including the huge prawn farmsÂ of the Alturas Group thatÂ exports prawns significantly abroad.
Its Oceania Seafood Restaurant located at the Garden level offers a breathtaking view of the ocean amid a tropical landscape, offering an all-day buffet, ala carte, variety of seafoods and special dinner. It is open from 6:00 am to 1o:30 pm.Â Its Coast Pool Bar, on the other hand, adjacent to the pool has a full view of the Pamilacan and Siquijor Islands within a cozy ambiance and a cool breeze incoming, offering one’s favorite drink concoction orÂ enthuses one to have an intimate dinner or R and R.
Offering local tours including the Chocolate Hills and trips to exotic diving places, the resort also has the “The Palm Spa,” tennis court, game area, picnic area, and outdoor activity playground, among many others.
TOURISM Â INCLUSIVE GROWTH
Secretary Jimenez is an outstanding advertising man and was one of the image building architects of president Aquino leading to the presidency in 2010. He knows what sells to people.
He is bullish about tourism as an instrument to produce “inclusive growth.” “There is one direct employee benefiting from one tourist in the country,” Jimenez demurred,” excluding the indirect suppliers of food like the farmers and drivers, tour guides.”
One of the areas to make the growth inclusive is to propagate the “papaya soap making” industry among the rural folks and even the Ubay Stock Farm as source of milk used by the Bohol tourism industry.
People in the Philippines are by nature hospitable that “some of them will work without pay in order to promote tourism in their respective areas,” the DOT secretary concluded.