Cebu Provincial Tourism Exec: Fewer guests, more personal attention
Aaron Que, 29 has been living in Cebu for the past seven years where he works as the Vice President for Corporate Communications in one of the hotels in Cebu City.
But despite this, he has not been able to explore the major tourists spots in the province, especially the countryside.
So when his 18-year old brother Samuel came home from New Zealand for Sinulog, they took the chance to experience the beauty of Cebu by joining the Cebu Provincial Government’s Suroy-Suroy Sugbu “Adventure Round South” last January 24 to 26.
“The natural environment was very nice and beautiful. Kudos to the tour guides because they are very professional. They are very careful about bringing you around and they played a very important part in the entire experience,” he told Cebu Daily News.
Unlike previous editions of the Suroy-Suroy Sugbu in the south, this year’s edition offered an optional tour for the more adventurous guests on their second day – trekking all seven levels of the Aguinid Falls in Samboan and braving the jumps and dives at the canyoneering in the towns of Badian and Alegria.
And since Aaron and Samuel were among the only three out of the 37 paying guests who were below 30 years old, they decided to try it themselves.
He said they enjoyed the thrill of these two activities and lauded the guides for being thoughtful and even taking good photos of them.
“What’s good was the locals can give you tips and share experiences with you. Surprisingly enough, they are also good at taking your picture. The level of taking pictures before has been taken for granted. But now, they are trained to take pictures and it is good quality,” he said.
Majority of the paying guests of Suroy-Suroy Sugbo were senior citizens who were balikbayans and came home for Sinulog.
But unlike previous editions, this year’s southern Cebu leg had fewer participants at 37 which was only one busload. In previous editions, it could reach up to more than 100 participants.
This was also the first time for the province to hold the Suroy-Suroy Sugbu since April 2017 when it was put on hold after the Commission on Audit (COA) asked the provincial government to explain why they spent P11.4 million for the tours and another P67.5 million for brand-new tourist buses but only earned P3.7 million in 2012.
Despite these challenges, Cebu Provincial Tourism Officer Joselito “Boboi” Costas said they still found the comeback of Suroy-Suroy Sugbu to be a success.
“It was successful. What we lack in numbers, we compensated it with the personal attention we have to each guest. The experience was more personal, more intimate as expressed by our guests,” Costas told CDN.
Aside from being the first tour in a while, Costas said another reason why there were fewer guests for the tour was because room rates for the resorts in Moalboal town, where the guests stayed, came in late.
He said this was because the resorts were still waiting for their online bookings and reservations for January and could not block it immediately for the Suroy-Suroy Sugbu guests.
Packages for this year’s Suroy-Suroy tours range between P8,000 to P11,000 depending on the type of accommodations that the guests will avail.
The provincial government allocated P1.9 million for the implementation of four rounds of the Suroy-Suroy Sugbu for 2018 including last week’s Southern Cebu leg.
“There is another one planned for April in Camotes. Vice Gov. (Agnes) Magpale recommended it. (By then) we hope we can release room rates earliest possible time,” Costas said.
Guests of the southern leg were treated to a jam-packed three days and two nights tour last week.
It began with a heritage tour in the towns of Argao, Dalaguete, Boljoon and Oslob on the first day. Among the activities they got to experience were first-hand hablon weaving as well as listening to the recently restored bamboo organ at the Parroquia de San Miguel Arcangel Church in Argao town.
On their second day, the group basked in the hospitality of southwestern towns including Santander, Samboan, Ginatilan, Alegria and Moalboal. It was on this day when the adventure junkies were able to trek the Aguinid falls and canyoneering.
On their last day, they visited the local churches of Ronda and Barili and were treated to cultural performances in Carcar City and Talisay City.
“We felt like it was very well organized because every stop we went, there was no downtime. Everywhere we went, the welcome was very warm. The mayors and vice mayors of each town were there,” Que said.
But if there was anything he could have suggested, Que said they would have wanted to have more time to stay in each of the sites they visited.
However, considering the full itinerary they had, he said they understood the time constraints.
Que also appreciated the mix of activities for both millennials and the older generation.