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Relaxation of Protocols Boost Philippines as ESL hub
Relaxation of Protocols Boost Philippines as ESL hub

Relaxation of Protocols to Help Philippines Become a Major ESL Hub

The further easing of requirements for foreign travelers will help bring back the Philippines as a destination to study and learn English as second language (ESL).

This developed when Malacañang moved to further ease the restrictions on international travel to push economic recovery.

Department of Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat noted that the new government guidelines would enable non-citizens to travel visa-free or using their 9A visas and apply for their special study permit (SSP) upon entering the country.

Puyat explained, “Visitors who come for our education tourism—ESL in particular—stand to benefit from this development as this will grant foreign nationals who wish to study in the country an interim process to remotely secure their visas.”

The Department of Tourism (DOT) noted that before the pandemic, the Philippines ranked fifth among the world’s sources of ESL lessons. Usually, the student’s who come to the country to study ESL come from South Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Thailand, China, Taiwan, UAE, and Russia.

Many ESL schools, mostly located in Baguio and Cebu, have already expressed their preparedness to accept international students by ensuring commitment to the government guidelines and providing additional measures to ensure the safety of both students and educators.

According to Puyat, over the pandemic, DOT continues to promote the Philippines as an ESL hub and conducted initiatives such as the Master Teaching English to Speakers of Other Language (TESOL) to enhance the skills and certify ESL teachers in the country.

Data from the Bureau of Immigration (BI) showed that applications for a Special Study Permit (SSP) had been rising in the Philippines before the pandemic in early 2020. SSP applications reached 59,428 in 2018 from a 22,561 in 2013. Foreigners that acquired an SSP will be allowed to study in the Philippines for short-term courses.

The administration signed Executive Order (EO) No. 166 last March 21, adopting a 10-point policy agenda to hasten and sustain economic recovery from Covid-19. The government committed to “further relax requirements relating to international travel and provide quarantine exemptions for vaccinated individuals coming into the country, in order to boost international tourism, increase foreign investments, and restore jobs in the tourism sector.”

Puyat mentioned, “As we move towards relaxing the entry of foreign tourists, the DOT sees brighter prospects for the country’s tourism industry. We will ensure that this transition will be done in careful accordance to the prescribed health and safety measures.”

The Entry Exemption Document (EED) was earlier required for foreign nationals to get a short-term visa during the pandemic lockdown. However, starting April 1, the Philippines is reopening to fully vaccinated tourists worldwide after the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) authorized their entry without an EED, given that they comply with applicable visa and immigration laws.

According to One Health Pass, international airports in Pasay, Clark, Subic, Mactan, Davao, and Panglao Island showed that after the IATF earlier authorized fully vaccinated tourists from visa-free countries. There were 96,096 arrivals from abroad from February 10 until March 15.

Puyat shows her enthusiasm that more foreign leisure tourists will arrive in the country with the further easing protocols.

She noted, “We thank our colleagues in the IATF and the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), as well as our public and private sector partners, who have been working with the DOT since the onset of the pandemic to ensure that the country’s reopening is carefully planned and carried out with health and safety in mind.”

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