Day-to-Day Activities of the WUSC-Sri Lanka Tourism Benchmarking Visit to the Philippines

DAY 1 | 24 July 2016

Ambassador Ranaraja, middle, gave a small welcome message to the delegatesThe group of Sri Lankan delegates arrived to the Philippines via Malaysia Airlines flight MH806 at 12:58 PM in spite of a 1-hour flight delay. Upon arrival, the group was greeted and had a lei reception prepared by the Department of Tourism (DOT) at NAIA Terminal 1.  

Ms. Anabelle Moreno, TIBFI Chairperson and Jay-ar Magsayo, TIBFI Secretariat, were at the airport to welcome the group and accompany them for the course of their visit. The group then headed to Seda Hotel located at Bonifacio Global City (BGC) in Taguig City to rest and get refreshed before heading to the Sri Lankan Ambassador’s residence for a welcome dinner.

Ambassador Aruni Ranaraja, Sri Lankan Ambassador to the Philippines, personally invited the Sri Lankan delegates to her residence for a welcome dinner. Ambassador Ranaraja gave a small welcome message to the delegates. TIBFI Board Members, Dr. Gloria Baken Wong-Siy, Mr. Paul Lim So, and Mr. Arjun Shroff were also present at the welcome dinner to formally meet the group.  

(From left to right) Ms. Anabelle O. Moreno (TIBFI Chairperson), Ms. Puvaneswary Ponniah (Manager, Gender Equality and Social Inclusion, WUSC-Sri Lanka), Ambassador Aruni Ranaraja (Sri Lankan Ambassador to the Philippines), Mr. Arjun Shroff (TIBFI Board Member), Dr. Gloria Baken W. Siy (TIBFI Board Member), Mr. Paul L. So (Deputy Chairperson)

DAY 2 | 25 July 2016

On the second day of the tourism-benchmarking visit, the group went to the Embassy of Canada in Makati City for a courtesy call. Mr. Stephen Weaver, Head of Development in the Embassy of Canada attended the meeting. A short presentation by Ms. Susan Bulan of the PICtourism project was presented during the forum. The delegates also presented an overview of the current status of Sri Lanka’s tourism economically and some government development plans and programs to improve the tourism industry of the country.

After the courtesy call at the Embassy of Canada, the group headed to the Department of Tourism for a forum regarding the departments’ development plans, tourism statistics, and marketing strategies. Ms. Ruth Tizon, together with Mr. Ryan Sebastian presented the overview of Philippine tourism industry and the National Tourism Development Plan (NTDP) 2011 to 2016. Furthermore, Ms. Arlene Alipio presented the overview of the Department of Tourism’s training and human resource development programs. After the presentation of the topics, the panel of participants had an open forum for question and answer.

Commencement of the forum at the Department of Tourism (DOT

 National Tourism Development Plan presented by Mr. Ryan Sebastia

Group photo during the courtesy call and forum at the Department of TourismThe group of delegates went to the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) after the courtesy call to the Department of Tourism. A forum also took place at TESDA and presentations of pertinent topics related to vocational courses were conducted. Statistics, strategic, and development plans were also shared to the participants and an overview of the latest projects were also discussed. After the forum, the group went on an observation tour to some of the training facilities of TESDA.

The forum at the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA)

DAY 3 | 26 July 2016

At the third day of the tourism-benchmarking visit, the group went to two (2) hotels for observation tours and fora regarding hotel operations – The Bayleaf Hotel and Hotel Jen. In addition, the group also visited the Lyceum of the Philippines University’s training and laboratory facilities for an observation tour and a forum also took place.

For the first hotel visit, the group went to The Bayleaf Hotel located in Intramuros, Manila. The delegates were divided into 3 small groups for an observation tour around the hotel facilities such as the guest rooms, function rooms, and restaurants.

A short talk from the General Manager of the hotel, Mr. Ed Vitug also took place. Afterwards, an open forum was conducted and different concerns or challenges, strategies, and development matters were discussed. Mr. Vitug generously shared some of his thoughts and gave valuable insights regarding hotel operations and development management plans.

Group photo after the forum in The Bayleaf Hotel

Observation tour at the Lyceum of the Philippines University’s kitchen laboratories and training facilities

After the observation tour at the Lyceum of the Philippines University, the group headed to Hotel Jen for another hotel visit and observation tour. A forum also took place at Hotel Jen and Mr. Edward Kollmer, General Manager of Hotel Jen, was one of the speakers. An observation tour was also conducted after the forum where the group was able to visit hotel facilities such as the guest rooms, restaurants and function rooms as well as observation of daily hotel operations. After the tour, the group called it a day and returned to the hotel to rest.

(From left to right) Mr. Deepthi Lamahewa, (WUSC – Sri Lanka Deputy Programs Director), Ms. Anabelle Ochoa-Moreno (TIBFI Chairperson), Mr. Edward Kollmer (Hotel Jen General Manager), and Ms. Puvaneswary Ponniah (Manager, Gender Equality and Social Inclusion, WUSC-Sri Lanka)

DAY 4 | 27 July 2016

The group leaves the hotel at 03:15 AM to catch their 06:00 AM scheduled flight from Manila going to Bohol. At 07:00 AM, the delegates arrived in Bohol and directly went to Bellevue Resort to check-in and take some rest.

A forum meeting with the Bohol Association of Hotels, Resorts, and Restaurants (BAHRR) took place at around 09:30 AM. The forum’s discussion tackled about the set-up, objectives, and activities of BAHRR as an organization and tourism skills and training programs in Bohol under the PICTourism project.

After the talk, the group went to take their lunch at the Loboc River Cruise. Then, the group headed to South Palms Resort in Panglao Island for a tour in resort facilities and observation of resort’s daily operations. The group also had one-on-one discussions and skills demo with some selected PICTourism training graduates.

Group picture of the WUSC-Sri Lanka Delegates with the officials of BAHRR

Group picture of the delegates with the officials of South Palms Resort Panglao

Table set-up training demo at South Palms Resort Panglao

DAY 5 | 28 July 2016

For today, the group went to Amorita Resort for another tour and observation visit. There was also a short meeting with some resort officials regarding an overview of Amorita Resort as a well-established and known resort in Panglao, Bohol. In the afternoon, the group had to catch their 04:00 PM flight going back to Manila; however, their scheduled flight got delayed for an hour.

Group picture during the observation visit at the Amorita Resort in Panglao, Bohol

DAY 6 | 29 July 2016

Today, a whole-day workshop event was prepared for the delegates to examine and evaluate their learning and insights for their benchmarking visit to the Philippines. The workshop started at 10:30 AM with an opening message from Dr. Gloria Baken Wong-Siy, past president of TIBFI and also an incumbent board member of the organization.

Ms. Gerlie Ganiga of the Department of Tourism discussed about the status of gender equality and social inclusion in the hospitality and tourism industry of the Philippines. There was an in-depth discussion regarding the gender equality matter because it is one of the main concerns when it comes to employment of women in the tourism industry in Sri Lanka.

TIBFI’s Chairperson, Ms. Anabelle Ochoa-Moreno also presented an overview of TIBFI as an organization, its important function in the tourism industry, and discussed about the affiliated member associations. After the talk from different speakers, the group had a comprehensive discussion on how to address some major concerns, issues, and challenges in Sri Lanka when it comes to its tourism industry. Statistics were also presented as proof of claims and implementation programs were also suggested to address the issues.

In the afternoon, the delegates were divided into three (3) groups according to their sector: (1) Training Providers, (2) Private Institution, and (3) Government. The group activity aims to examine the learning and insights of the group and how they can apply those learnings in Sri Lanka for their 7-day benchmarking visit in the Philippines. The groups were given 1 hour to have an in-depth discussion and come up with an oral and written presentation of their work outputs. After the group presentation, almost all of the three (3) groups presented similar opinions on how they can address the tourism challenges and apply their learnings for the betterment of the tourism industry in Sri Lanka. The workshop ended with warm ‘thank yous’ and sincere gratitude between the Tourism Industry Board Foundation, Inc. officials and the WUSC – Sri Lanka delegates.

Dr. Rajasegaram Gnanasegar, General Manager of the Eartern Province Tourism Bureau in Sri Lanka, presenting the work output of the government sector group

Mr. Amal Lenard Ranchagodage Don, Sri Lanka Institute of Tourism and Hotel Management – Koggala Principal, presenting the work output of the training provider sector group

Ms. Avril Therese Ramani Corea,Kenya Tea Development Agency Vice Secretary, presenting the work output of the private sector group

The government sector group having a discussion during the workshop activity

The training provider group discussion mentored by Dr. Gloria Baken Wong-Siy (standing)

Group picture of the delegates together with the TIBFI officials after the workshop event

DAY 7 | 30 July 2016

After the 6-day series of observation tours and forum activities, the group was treated for a historical tour of Manila. At 08:30 AM, Ms. Yael Fernandez, the group’s tour guide for the day, greeted the delegates at New World Manila Hotel’s lobby. The first stop of the historical tour was in Rizal’s Monument at Luneta Park. Then, the group went to tour around Fort Santiago in Intramuros where they stayed for about an hour.

There was a film showing about Philippine history specifically how Intramuros was built and the group visited Jose Rizal’s Museum, where artifacts about Rizal were displayed. After the tour in Fort Santiago, the group headed to Casa Manila, a museum located in Intramuros depicting the colonial lifestyle of rich and middle-class Filipinos during the Spanish colonization of the Philippines. In the afternoon, the group had free time and went to Greenhills Shopping Center to shop souvenir items.

The group then headed to Barbara’s Restaurant back in Intramuros for a farewell dinner prepared for the delegates. The group was treated with Filipino cultural dance presentations from the commissioned folk dancers of the restaurant.

DAY 8 | 31 July 2016

For today, it was the departure day of the delegates going back to Sri Lanka. At 10:30 AM, the group left the hotel going to NAIA Terminal 1. Their scheduled flight was at 03:00 PM via Malaysia Airlines.

The 7-day tourism-benchmarking visit of the WUSC-Sri Lanka delegates has ended successfully. For the 7-day tourism-benchmarking visit of WUSC-Sri Lanka delegates to the Philippines, not only souvenir items were brought back to Sri Lanka but also different kinds of learning and insights about Philippine tourism were also with them. Tourism is everyone’s business, each and every stakeholder is part of the industry, be it a private or a government sector. The key goal of the benchmarking visit is to learn best practices from industry experts when it comes to the field of hospitality and tourism management. Since tourism is a service-oriented industry, being able to deliver excellent quality of service to consumers is key to become successful in the field of tourism.

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