MANILA, Aug 1 — The Department of Tourism (DOT) on Tuesday encouraged schools to work with DOT-accredited tour service providers in planning field trips to reduce the risk of young lives being cut short.
“…Service providers that include the tour operators and other tourism facilities should be qualified, licensed, and certified to provide the services in the highest quality possible,” DOT Undersecretary Alma Jimenez said in a statement.
Jimenez made this call citing the tragic bus accident in Tanay, Rizal in February that claimed the lives of 14 college students, a teacher, and the bus driver.
The DOT has already taken the lead in reviewing current regulations and guidelines on field trips to ensure the safety of students during the recent Educational Tour Summit.
The event was sponsored by the DOT and participated in by representatives from Department of Education, Commission on Higher Education, Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board, academic institutions, tour operators, and tourism industry stakeholders.
During the summit, school officials committed to follow government policies on educational tours by providing the necessary permits and coordinating only with DOT-accredited service providers.
Government agencies vowed to ensure that all service providers are trained and accredited. However, they noted that it would not be possible if schools continue to work with non-accredited providers.
According to the DOT, one of the most visited student destinations is the Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon) region.
DOT Region IV-A Director Rebecca Labit, for her part, said that the freeze order released by CHED, banning field trips from February to June 2017, has affected the tourism industry, including numerous destinations, and businesses, especially in Calabarzon.
Labit, meanwhile, called for a timely response for sectors to come together and adopt stricter guidelines, commit to sanction violators, and pursue quality standards.
Jimenez backed Labit saying that all sectors should arrive at a total solution that will allow this experiential education through educational trips to continue.
“The learning pathways will not be complete if we do not take steps to expand the options and settings by which learning can happen, not just inside the classroom but in the bigger world outside,” Jimenez said.