Arrivals of foreign students go down in 2013

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Thursday, August 7, 2014

THIS year saw the arrivals of foreign students visiting Cebu for educational tours slowing down, industry players said Cebu can expect more next year.

“We see a good number of them (foreign students) coming in by 2015,” said Destination Specialists Cebu Inc. inbound manager Merlyn Ebora.

Ebora said the low number of foreign student tourists for this year is an aftereffect of the calamities, earthquake and a super typhoon that hit the Visayas in the last quarter of 2013.


The Korean student market has not been significantly affected by it, however, because of the increasing demand for English as a Second Language (ESL) classes in Cebu, she said.

Ebora pointed out that the Japanese student market has been significantly affected by the calamities. She said bookings for the year declined although she did not disclose figures.

She said Japanese students, unlike Koreans, usually do immersion tours in Cebu where they go to rural or slum areas or visit charity organizations to have a personal experience of living in a developing country.

“When calamities happen in a country, the first to be affected in our operations is the inbound (tour),” she said.

At present, Destination Specialists has already booked more than 300 Japanese students to participate in educational tours in Cebu next year.

“Japanese students are great tourists because they go here for more than just leisure,” Ebora said.

Japanese students who do immersions in Cebu usually stay for five days.

Department of Tourism 7 Director Rowena Montecillo also expressed optimism that more Japanese students will come to Cebu next year as result of the agency’s aggressive participation in the recently concluded business and travel mission in Japan.

“We can expect more Japanese students...maybe around a thousand of them,” Montecillo said.

In June of last year, 400 Japanese students went to Cebu, according to Montecillo.

“The trend now in Japan is that high school students, second year high school, go to English-speaking countries to practice English. We can tap this market,” she said.

Foreign students who come to Cebu to do educational tours or enroll in short-term courses are only required to have a Special Study Permit instead of student visa, said Bureau of Immigration Cebu District 7 alien control officer Casimiro Madarang III.

At present, DOT 7 does not have exact figures on the number of foreign students coming to Cebu. Montecillo said the figures are presented in general, classifying tourists only of their nationality.

“We don’t have figures as to who are these students who come over to have educational tours and (no figures as to) where they go,” the director said.

Earlier, DOT 7 reported that foreign tourist arrivals dropped by 6.95 percent from from 387,025 last year to 360,122 this year.

Koreans remain to be the top tourist market for Central Visayas, followed by the Japanese.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 08, 2014.


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