MANILA – The Philippines, through the Department of Tourism (DOT), hosted the virtual edition of the 3rd International Conference on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Mutual Recognition Arrangement on Tourism Professionals (Asean MRA-TP) that is expected to largely influence the department’s Tourism Response and Recovery Plan, particularly its human resource component.
“We reaffirm our commitment not only to our Philippine tourism stakeholders but to our colleagues in the Asean through this conference, with its aim to raise awareness of the MRA-TP and equip Asean tourism professionals for restarting in the new normal,” Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said.
To ensure the country’s tourism-related labor force stays competitive in this cross-border playing field, the DOT conducted activities to promote competency-based training, assessment, and certification guided by benchmarks dubbed “Asean Toolboxes,” which were developed to support the Asean Common Competency Standards for Tourism Professionals and the Common Asean Tourism Curriculum.
The free toolboxes cover 242 competencies across six labor divisions — Housekeeping, Food and Beverage Service, Food Production, Front Office, Travel Agency Services, and Tour Operator Services.
This year’s conference featured industry experts from the 10 Asean member states who shared their respective countries’ response and recovery programs for tourism professionals against the Covid-19 pandemic with H.E Dato’ Paduka Lim Jock Hoi, Secretary General of the Asean Secretariat, delivering the keynote address.
Under the MRA-TP, Filipino workers who meet the standards set by the Asean can apply for jobs in Asean member countries and vice versa.
The online conference likewise commemorated the 53rd founding anniversary of the Asean. It was divided into three sessions: Looking Back: The Asean Mutual Recognition Arrangement on Tourism Professionals – 10 Years After, Transitioning to the New Normal in Asean MRA-TP Labor Divisions, and Rebooting – Reskilling – Reinventing the Filipino Tourism Professionals.
“Trust that the Philippine Department of Tourism is one with our industry stakeholders and our counterparts in Asean in overcoming this crisis. The difficulties we are facing right now shall not deter us from fulfilling our mission to ensure that our industry recovers in a secure, inclusive, and sustainable way,” Puyat added.
During the Asean Tourism Forum 2020 last January in Brunei Darussalam, the Philippines confirmed its hosting of the conference recognizing its importance in sharing relevant information and updates to Asean tourism professionals.
The online event was participated in by 452 from the 10 Asean member states with a combined 23,400 views, 68,200 reach, and 11,400 engagements in live stream.