The Cebu Provincial Government and the Department of Tourism (DOT) signed last September 28 an agreement with two institutes of higher learning in Singapore for a 36-month “Tourism and Hospitality Capability Development Program” in the province.

Temasik Polytechnic (TP) and Republic Polytechnic (RP) will provide instructors for a training program involving the sharing of best practices and strategies to stakeholders and partners in Cebu’s tourism and hospitality sector.
RP is “the first educational institution in Singapore to leverage problem-based learning approach for all its diploma programmes”, while TP is one of the leading higher learning institutions in Singapore that “infused global realities into its programmes and develop a mindset on campus that embraces socio-cultural diversity.”

(Seated, left to right) Cebu Governor Hilario Davide III; Mr. Yeo Li Pheow, principal/CEO of Singapore’s Republic Polytechnic; DOT Undersecretary Alma Rita Jimenez; and Mrs. Lay-Tan Siok Lie, deputy principal of Singapore’s Temasek Polytechnic sign the memorandum of understanding for a 36-month tourism and hospitality management program for Cebu turism stakeholders, at the Capitol Social Hall. With them are Vice Gov Agnes Magpale (standing, left) and Temasek Foundation International CEO Benedict Cheong.

The program comes at a time when the DOT projected that between 2015 and 2022 “Cebu will experience the highest growth with tourist terminal capacity and international tourist traffic projected to increase from 4.5 million to 15 million (3 times) and 1.7million to 8.80 million (5 times) respectively.”

With the program, “Singapore’s tourism experiences in M.I.C.E. (Meetings, Incentives, Conventions, and Exhibitions), Cultural and Heritage, and Eco-tourism can be a source for mutual sharing on best practices and emerging trends.”

Made for 120 participants, the program has three phases divided into seven workshops. Workshop 1 under Phase 1 took place last September 25-29 at the University of San Carlos. Workshop participants included representatives from the local government units, hotels, museums, travel and tour service providers, and the academe.

The instructors, who came all the way from Singapore, discussed their country’s “Best Practices in Tourism Development”.

Mrs. Lay-Tan Siok Lie, deputy principal of Singapore’s Temasek Polytechnic receives a gift on behalf of the Singapore institutions from Cebu Governor Hilario Davide III after the MOU signing. With her are (left to right) Mr. Yeo Li Pheow, principal/CEO of Singapore’s Republic Polytechnic; Vice Gov Agnes Magpale; and Department of Tourism Undersecretary Alma Rita Jimenez.

“I think it is a very fruitful workshop. We are getting inputs from a leading global tourism industry. These (speakers) are the same people who worked with the Singapore Tourism Board. We all know Singapore is one of the best in the world. We are learning a lot and I cannot wait to apply what we are learning here,” said Casa Gorordo Musuem curator Florencio Moreño, in an interview before Workshop 1 ended.

Meanwhile, Bogo City Tourism Officer Jocelyn Tan said she found the knowledge she gained very helpful for them later on.

“The discussions were very relevant and very useful. I feel sad sa uban who were invited but did not attend. Grabe ang learning experience, very applicable to our locality,” she said.

“We are learning ways in tourism that matter. And if they can do it, why can’t we?” she added.

For June Rhoses Fernandez, chef de cuisine of Cebu Parklane International Hotel, the workshop will aid him in his advocacy to promote culinary tourism in Cebu.

Mr. Yeo Li Pheow, principal/CEO of Singapore’s Republic Polytechnic hands to Department of Tourism Undersecretary Alma Rita Jimenez the gift from the Singapore delegation. With them are (left to right) Mrs. Lay-Tan Siok Lie, deputy principal of Singapore’s Temasek Polytechnic; Cebu Governor Hilario Davide III; and Vice Governor Agnes Magpale.

“This is very good for our tourism, a very nice experience. For me, we promote culinary tourism…and the ideas we get will help make Cebu better,” he said. He found the meeting of minds and sharing of ideas especially important “to make Cebu the best destination”.

And if the participants were impressed, so were their instructors.

“There were a lot of very relevant discussions amongst the various stakeholders. Not just the government but also industry leaders….There were a lot of cross-discussions. What we hope to achieve is there will be a stronger collaboration among them, that they must bring value back to (Cebu) tourism,” said Benjamin Cassim, senior lecturer at the Leisure and Events Management of Temasek Polytechnic’s School of Business.

Instructors from Singapore praised participants of the first workshop under the “Tourism and Hospitality Management Program” for their enthusiasm in sharing ideas during the five-day activity.

He suggested more meetings of stakeholders to map out the best strategy for tourism in Cebu.
“There are not many opportunities for them to come together in this kind of setting and discuss…. We see the value in something like this, in bringing the stakeholders together,” he said.

Ong Yuin Ling, assistant director of Republic Polytechnic’s School of Hospitality, on the other hand, was impressed at how the participants were very participative even when they barely knew each other.

“The people were grouped coming from different backgrounds to discuss different issues…. Even if they did not know everybody, they exchanged a lot. They were there to share more…. The discussion was fruitful,” she said.
Workshop II under the program is expected to held December this year.


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