ENGLISH AS Second Language (ESL) service providers in Cebu are feeling the pinch of the coronavirus spread as its major markets for students have stopped coming. “We are really hit in ESL,” Department of Tourism-Central Visayas (DoT-7) Regional Director Shalimar H. Tamano said, noting that Cebu is a major player in the sector. Among the first main clientele were Koreans, and later diversified to other non-English speaking markets like Japan and, most recently, Taiwan. Arrivals from Taiwan alone in 2019 grew 60% from 2018, mainly due to ESL students, Mr. Tamano said. DoT-7 is hosting the first ESL National Convention in Cebu in July to boost the sector. “Cebu has to lead in organizing this fast growing sub-sector in tourism,” he said. He added that holding the convention is intended to address the concerns of the legitimate ESL schools. There are about 100 ESL online and offline schools in Cebu. “What is noteworthy about promoting ESL,” Mr. Tamano said, “is these students who stay here from one week to three months spend not only for tuition but also for sightseeing, shopping, among others. In fact, DoT discovered that most ESL schools in Cebu have their own facilities for leisure activities for their students, like installing swimming pools in the school, pumpboats, and others.” — The Freeman