SPECIAL FEATURE for World Tourism Day (Sept. 27): UST College of Tourism and Hospitality Management: A Provider of World Class Tourism and Hospitality Thomasian Professionals

The Philippines is an archipelagic nation found in Southeast Asia. It is one of 18 mega-biodiverse countries in the world that is home to two-thirds of the Earth’s biodiversity and 70% to 80% of the plant and animal species of the world. Six UNESCO World Heritage Sites and eight ASEAN Heritage Parks are found here. With the recent discovery of unknown islands, the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority (NAMRIA) has increased the Philippine island count from 7,107 to 7,641 islands. With the existence of world class and emerging tourist destinations in the country, there is no doubt that the tourism industry will continue to flourish for the years to come. Indeed, tourism has become a significant component of the Philippine economic growth because of the substantial contribution it makes to Gross Domestic Products (GDP) and employment. According to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), in 2017, the tourism sector accounted for 21% of the whole economy. Aside from revenue, it also generated 2.3 million jobs. In 2018, a milestone is reached as there is a 12.7% increase in GDP as released by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA). Out of 185 countries assessed, the WTTC’s 2018 Power and Performance report ranked the Philippines as 13th among the top 15 tourism powerhouses that had recorded absolute growth within the last seven years. The country ranked 8th among nations that have seen the largest growth in travel and tourism’s contribution to GDP. 

DOT Secretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat mentioned that, “the Philippines can anticipate more visitors to keep the upward trend sustained as there is an improved connectivity from new flights, additional frequencies and expanded capacity brought about by new and upgraded airports.” 

Tourism has transformed into a booming industry that continuously expands with today’s rapid modernization and technology development. Nowadays, traveling has become commonplace as it became easy, affordable and accessible to everyone. Social media has played a role in marketing and promoting countless destinations in the country. With the growth of the industry, tourism related jobs are projected to increase in the next few years. In 2018, it created 5.4 million jobs for Filipinos. As it proves to be a promising industry, an education in the field of tourism and hospitality is gaining in popularity among the Filipino youth today.

The University of Santo Tomas holds the distinction of being the oldest existing university in Asia. The University is dedicated to produce competent, committed and compassionate individuals who are committed to the service of the Church, the nation and the global community. With its preeminence in providing quality Philippine education, the University offers various programs that can mold Thomasians  to become productive members of the society. From its humble beginnings as a small department under the College of Education in the late 1990s, to becoming a separate Institute in 2002 and finally being named a college in 2006, the College of Tourism and Hospitality Management of the University of Santo Tomas was born. 

Today, it has grown to be at the forefront in providing quality tourism and hospitality education in the country for students who are aspiring to be world class professionals and being a producer of thousands of graduates who are working and excelling in the field. In line with the vision of the college to become recognized for its outstanding programs that produces world-class professionals and aligned with the University’s mission, the college also commits in forming top-notch competent, committed and compassionate Thomasian Tourism and Hospitality professionals in service of the Church, nation and the global community. 

The College of Tourism and Hospitality Management (CTHM) offers two programs, the Bachelor of Science in Hotel and Restaurant Management and the Bachelor of Science in Travel Management that have the highly coveted distinction of Centers of Excellence by the Commission on Higher Education. The Philippine Association of Colleges and Universities Commission of Accreditation (PACUCOA) also granted a Level IV Accredited Status for the B.S. Travel Management program and a Level III Reaccredited Status for the B.S. Hotel and Restaurant Management program of the college. Full accreditation was also granted by the International Centre of Excellence in Tourism and Hospitality Education (THE-ICE), an international accreditation agency and a global network of leading quality tourism, hospitality, events and culinary arts institutions. UST-CTHM was also recognized by Asia World Hospitality and American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute (AHLEI), in its commitment to Guest Service Excellence making the University of Santo Tomas the first academic institution in the world to receive Certified Guest Property Distinction. Likewise, the faculty members are Certified Hospitality Educators and Certified Guest Service Professionals certified by AHLEI.

CTHM is also active in both international and local memberships to organizations in the field of tourism and hospitality. CTHM is the first Philippine member of EUHOFA International, an international association of hotel schools. It also has memberships in the International Council on Hotel, Restaurant, and Institutional Education (I-CHRIE) and the Asia-Pacific Council on Hotel, Restaurant, and Institutional Education (APacCHRIE). For its local membership, CTHM is part of the Hotel and Restaurant Association of the Philippines (HRAP), Philippine Tour Operators Association (PhilTOA), Association of Human Resources Managers in the Hospitality Industry (AHRM), Council of Hotel and Restaurant Educators of the Philippines (COHREP), Association of Administrators in the Hospitality, Hotel and Restaurant Management Educational Institutions (AAHHRMEI) and the Union of Filipino Tourism Educators (UFTE).

Students have joined and won in numerous competitions that are held locally and internationally, giving them more experience and more exposure in the field. Tourism students participate in the Philippine Tourism Quiz Bees and Patimpalak ng Kasuotang Pinoy organized by the PhilTOA and the National Tourism and Hospitality Students’ Skills Olympics organized by UFTE.  The Hotel and Restaurant students, on the other hand, participate in the National Food Showdown, Jolly University, Seoul Food and Hotel Culinary Challenge 2019 and the Philippine Culinary Cup. The CTHM Students, with their dedication to the craft and with the support of the administrators and faculty coaches, would often reap awards in various categories of the different competitions battling it out with other universities and professionals in the field. 

CTHM also has local internship partnerships with government agencies like the Department of Tourism and the Bureau of Immigration, airport service providers, airlines, travel agencies, embassies, event companies, deluxe hotels with global brands and other tourism and hospitality related companies. Moreover, opportunities for international internships are also currently offered to interested students. In fact, the College had established a partnership with Zip Travel Inc. for students bound for the United States of America, plus an agreement with Central World Hotel Co Ltd. for the Student Internship Abroad Program (SIAP) to Bangkok, Thailand, giving the students the chance to hone their skills and talents abroad while carrying with them the name of the university. Other programs are the ASEAN International Mobility for Students (AIMS) with Daegu Catholic University and an Exchange Student Program with Sejong University, both from South Korea. 

In line with its mission to give service to the nation by strengthening its academic based community engagements, CTHM embarks on programs that involve “Service-Learning,” a platform to share knowledge and skills through learning activities related to food and beverage production and services, tourism products and services, and the environment. The expertise and assistance of Tourism and Hospitality faculty members and students are also tapped to facilitate learning for the members of the partner communities from Sitio Sta. Rosa II, Sitio Lambakin, Sitio Gallilee, Smokey Mountain, Sitio Malasa and the Diocese of Caloocan. Activities such as waitering skills workshop, basic food and beverage service techniques, tour guiding workshop, Chinese dimsum cooking workshop with costing and pricing, tour packaging workshop, film showing about the environment and indigenous people, good housekeeping, floor polishing and bed making operation, floral arrangement, cultural appreciation tour of UST, Palarong Pinoy, customer service seminar and drinks for sale beverage workshop are conducted to give back to the community and to introduce new means of livelihood.

In celebration of the World Tourism Day, it is certain that the College of Tourism and Hospitality Management, in its relentless pursuit to provide quality education and excellence to the Filipino youth, will never cease to develop Thomasian graduates who are equipped with the knowledge, skills and values needed to excel in the field. For decades, under the umbrella of the College of Education, the University has consistently produced Tourism and HRM graduates who are now holding top-level positions in the industry; some of them already owning and managing various businesses connected to the field. Furthermore, with the formation of an independent college 13 years ago, together with its dedication to service and learning, it has proven to become a training ground for world class tourism and hospitality providers who are continuously contributing to the successful growth of the tourism industry not only in the Philippines but on an international level as well. 

With all this in mind, it is likely that you will encounter Thomasians in your future travels who are passionate workers dedicated to giving you a hospitable welcome while providing you with the best possible service with a smile. Assoc. Prof. Gezzez Giezi Granado, DCL is an alumnus of the Bachelor of Science in Tourism program of the UST College of Tourism and Hospitality (CTHM) (cum Laude), the Bachelor of Laws program, the Master of Laws program major in Environmental Laws (cum Laude), and the Doctor of Civil Laws program (Magna cum Laude) of the UST Faculty of Civil Law. In 2013, he was the CTHM Secretary and the UST Office of Admissions Director from 2016 until 2019. At present, he is the Dean of the College of Tourism and Hospitality.

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