THE government is now eyeing returning overseas Filipino workers (OFW) to help address the country’s labor shortage in tourism under a new program of the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) and the Department of Tourism (DOT).
Both agencies signed a new agreement for the implementation of their Balik Bayani sa Turismo (BBT) program, which will provide returning OFWs and their families free tourism-related skills development and enhancement training.
The training will cover culinary tourism, farm tourism, homestay operations and tour guiding.
Under the program, the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) will provide scholarship grants for qualified OFWs and their family members who want to become tourism frontliners and service providers or tourism enterprise owners.
It also allows DOT to include OFWs with extensive experience in language skills or in tourism-related activities in its pool of experts.
DMW Officer-in-Charge Hans Leo J. Cacdac welcomed the initiative since it will expand the reintegration program.
“No OFW does not want to return home for good. Everyone has plans for their families and communities. That’s why this partnership with the DOT is a huge help for our OFWs to come home with their families while having a sustainable source of income in the local tourism sector,” he said.
Those who will complete the training can seek local employment in tourism establishments or start their own tourism-related businesses.
DOT Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco said the addition of OFWs in the tourism sector will help boost its competitiveness.
“We are counting on our partnership with the DMW because the returning OFWs are so much valued in the tourism industries because of their experience and expertise,” Frasco said.
Last year, the Hotel Sales and Marketing Association (HSMA) reported a shortage of workers in local hotels and resorts as their occupancy increases following the lifting of pandemic restrictions.
DOT has partnered with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to conduct special job fairs to address the labor shortage.