Tourism boom brings jobs to Philippines


MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Tourism is on a roll.

Through targeted marketing campaigns in China, Japan, Korea, the United States, the Middle East and Europe, it was able to attract 3.09 million tourists into the Philippines last year. And since the campaigns remain on high gear, it is optimistic that 3.4 million more will come in this year.

This surge in arrivals has led to a boom in the local tourism sector, which means more jobs for Filipinos.

At the same time, the DOT is targeting $5.8 billion in tourism income this year, exceeding the medium-term goal set two years ago of $5 billion by 2010.

It is already on its way as foreign tourist arrivals in the first four months grew 7.5 percent to 1.112 million from 1.034 million in the same period last year and tourism receipts have reached $1.34 billion.

In April alone, arrivals grew 4.3 percent to 253,869 from 243,441 in the same month of 2007.

Given the bright prospects of the industry, Computer Science graduate Raynan Torzan wants to take part in the growth and he hopes to end up in a five-star hotel.

The 30-year-old Torzan was one of over 10,000 job applicants who trooped to the 3rd Trabaho sa Turismo (TST) jobs fair held in the SMX Convention Center last May 21 and 22 in search of a spot in the growing industry.

The two-day fair featured 183 employers from tourism-related businesses that offered some 15,000 local jobs to experienced professionals and fresh graduates alike to meet the surging manpower needs of the booming tourism industry.

“We discourage piracy of employees from one company to another,” Tourism secretary Ace Durano told the Inquirer on the sidelines of the fair’s launch. “Our main goal really is to create more new jobs for Filipinos.”

Durano toured the employers’ booths, which served as one-stop shops for the screening, evaluation and interview of job applicants. He greeted applicants, like Bulacan-based Torzan, and congratulated some who were hired on the spot.

Because the employers in the exhibit were accredited by the Department of Tourism (DOT), Durano said applicants can rest assured that there would be no “false hiring” or illegal recruitment and that all their transactions were legitimate.

The only tourism-focused job fair in the country, the TST was participated in by hotels and resorts, airlines and shipping/cruise firms, travel agencies and tour operators, retail/entertainment outlets and tourism suppliers.

Also at the event were call centers and business process outsourcing firms, restaurants, overseas employment agencies, telecommunications company and spa establishments.

Tourism-related outfits involved in finance, logistics, construction, manufacturing, wholesale, medical and dermatological services, and government agencies were also present.

Durano said hotel and resorts, travel agencies and airlines were the top employing industries.

Shangri-La Boracay Resort and Spa alone, which plans to open this year, is looking for 400 hotel employees.

“Some of our best employees we hired from the past tourism fairs,” said Gerry Rodriguez, human resource development manager of Plantation Bay Resort and Spa in Mactan, Cebu.

This is the reason, he said, why Plantation Bay has been joining TST since it began in 2006.

The Inquirer, one of the event’s media partners, screened applicants in its booth, where job seekers got free copies of the paper’s Job Market section, along with bookmarks with tips for a more fruitful jobseeking experience.

After the tour, Durano updated the media on tourism developments, including plans for next year’s “Career in Tourism 2009” fair.

According to Durano, the DOT plans to expand 2009’s fair, which he said would include for the first time some 370,000 overseas job opportunities.

Most of the overseas jobs to be offered, he said, would come from Singapore and Macau, which are popular destinations for meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions.

With Singapore’s 10 million MICE foreign visitors, Singapore’s population of 4.4 million cannot provide the huge manpower required.

This is where he hopes to capitalize on Filipino’s excellent skills and hospitality to capture some 30,000 job vacancies in Singapore -from the 10 to 20 new hotels to be completed in 2009, excluding the Universal Studio being built in Sentosa–and some 100,000 to 300,000 new jobs in Macau, which has 30 huge casino hotels.

Over the 2004-2007 period, DOT generated a total of 3.78 million direct employments as foreign arrivals rose from 2.29 million in 2004 to 2.62 million in 2005. Tourists totaled 2.84 million in 2006 before increasing to 3.09 million last year.

With DOT’s target of 3.5 million tourist arrivals this year and five million by 2010, the industry must expand total capacity in terms of physical infrastructure, room accommodations and manpower, Durano said.

“Tourism has very big room to grow,” Durano said. “That’s why I keep on bringing the President to different places (like Caramoan and Panglao) to highlight other potential tourist destinations.”