THE Department of Tourism (DOT) has asked local government executives for assistance in implementing the government agency’s accreditation guidelines for tourism establishments.
In an interview with the BusinessMirror, DOT Director for Tourism Standards and Regulations Ma. Rica C. Bueno said the government agency wrote the League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP), League of
Cities of the Philippines (LCP) and the Philippine Councilors League (PCL) “to support the DOT accreditation process, and make sure that tourism enterprises secure accreditation from us first, before they are issued business permits”.
This request comes on the heels of a recent survey by the DOT, which found out that “almost 50 percent” of tourism establishments nationwide are not accredited with the government agency.
In a letter on May 31 to PCL President Luis “Chavit” Singson, Tourism Undersecretary for Tourism Regulation, Coordination and Resource Generation Alma Rita R. Jimenez said she “respectfully request[s] your assistance to make DOT accreditation a prerequisite to the issuance of business permits. By doing this, the DOT can help local government units in regulating the operations of these enterprises and effectively act on complaints pursuant to the existing rules and regulations governing the accreditation of tourism establishments.”
She added: “Our concerted efforts will ensure the safety and convenience of both local and foreign tourists.” The same letter was sent to Mayor Ma. Fe Villar-Brondial, LMP National President, and Gov. Edgardo P. Pamintuan, LCP National President.
According to the DOT official, despite the agency’s aggressive push for tourism establishments to be accredited, the agency has been “receiving numerous complaints against nonaccredited tourism entities and front-liners. Most of the complaints were undelivered services of travel and tour agencies that are not accredited by the [DOT].”
Jimenez added the latest survey of the DOT’s Office of Tourism Standards and Regulation (OTSR) showed that “1,479 out of 2,995 travel and tour agencies (TTAs) and tourist transport operators (TTO) were non-accredited with the DOT, hence, making up the 49 percent of the whole population of operational TTAs and TTOs in the country. In 2016 alone the OTSR received a total of 59 complaints filed against tourism entities not accredited with the DOT, while nine complaints of the same nature were received by OTSR during the first quarter of 2017.”
In accordance with Republic Act 9353, otherwise known as the Tourism Act of 2009, the DOT is mandated to enforce “a comprehensive system of mandatory accreditation for primary tourism enterprises and voluntary accreditation for secondary tourism enterprises”. Under primary tourism enterprises are hotels, resorts, and other accommodation establishments, travel and tour services, tourist transport services, tour guides and tourism front loners, sports and recreational facilities, MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) facilities and tourism estate management services.
For her part, Bueno said the DOT already had a memorandum of understanding with the PCL, LCP and LMP about the same matter in 2014. But the agency felt the need to write to the local government leaders again and ask for their support, because a number of their members may have already changed due to recent elections.
She also stressed that the DOT wrote the leagues of government executives “even before the Resorts World Manila (RWM) incident happened”. The DOT recently said it was mulling over the revision of its accreditation guidelines to cover casino complexes, in the light of the lone gunman attack on RWM on June 2.
At present, only hotels in these integrated casino resorts are required to directly get an accreditation with the DOT. Casino complexes fall under secondary tourism establishments and are not required to seek accreditation under the DOT’s current regulations, according to Bueno. (See, “DOT eyes revision of accreditation rules to cover casino complexes,” in the BusinessMirror, June 15, 2017.)
This explains why, upon checking by this writer, integrated resort such as RWM, Solaire Resort & Casino and Okada Manila are not registered with the DOT. Only City of Dreams is accredited as a secondary tourism enterprise under the “tourism entertainment complex” category.