MANILA -- The establishment of the first online tourism portal in the Philippines started as Rajah Travel Corporation launched the first phase of its Tourism Knowledge Center after welcoming its first partner from the academe on board.

The center, an online portal that will provide relevant and updated data on the country’s tourism industry, will bring together tourism industry stakeholders, local government units, and the academe as they collectively provide new insights, trends, and analysis.

The first to formally join the project was Lyceum of the Philippines University (LPU) on Tuesday with the LGUs of Manila, Palawan, and Bohol expected to follow next month.

“Rajah Travel Corp. will manage the Tourism Knowledge Center while LGUs and academes will provide research along with tourism data, information, and events within their locations,” said Rajah Travel Corp. president Aileen Clemente.

"A first of its kind in the country," Clemente said, noting this will serve as a media center where tourism news will be posted.

Among others, an online forum and webinar will be handled by leading tourism executives from the country and abroad.

She added that there are a lot of tourism data available they can use to forecast future growth areas and detailed needs even on a local level.

With LPU as the first partner for the knowledge center, Clemente lauded the educational institution for its "forward thinking approach to tourism."

“LPU is a progressive school we are proud to have as a partner. We believe they can assist in bridging the gap between colleges and universities and the industry needs,” she said.

Meanwhile, Clemente expects LPU's Batangas, Laguna, and Cavite campuses to come online soon.

LPU president Roberto Laurel said they are excited to partner with Rajah Travel Corp. for the project.

“With our involvement in the Tourism Knowledge Center, we expect our university to blaze new fields as we showcase our center of excellence stature. We are one of the leading educational institutions in terms of our tourism and hospitality management courses,” Laurel said.

Backed by international accreditations, LPU currently has the biggest tourism, hospitality management, and culinary population in the country with more than 14,000 students enrolled for the current school year.

On Wednesday, Clemente told the Philippine New Agency the platform is expected to be available to the public by the first quarter of 2019 after getting the LGUs on board the initiative. (PNA)