Cebu’s private sector is factor in tourism growth

By: Victor Anthony V. Silva August 23,2016 - 09:12 PM

Foreign tourists enjoy the Sinulog 2016 Mardi Gras in this January 2016 file photo. (CDN FILE)

Foreign tourists enjoy the Sinulog 2016 Mardi Gras in this January 2016 file photo. (CDN FILE)

CV tourist arrivals up 3.83 percent in five months of 2016; Cebu’s arrivals also grow by 3.37 percent

Cebu’s strong private sector, which is ready to offer new and different tour packages, is one of the reasons Cebu posted the most number of tourist arrivals in the first five months of the year in Central Visayas.

“Our private sector, in coordination with the DOT, will not stop thinking of new products,” Director Rowena Montecillo of the Department of Tourism in Central Visayas (DOT-7) told Cebu Daily News during a phone interview yesterday.

Tourist arrivals

Cebu registered the most number of arrivals with 1,527,419 from January to May, which reflects a growth rate of 3.37 percent from 1,477,587 in the same period last year.

Montecillo also cited the tourism department’s marketing efforts as another reason in the increase of tourist arrivals in Cebu and Central Visayas as a whole in the five-month period

“We are now reaping the promotions that we have been doing, marketing the Philippines as a whole and not just Region 7,” Montecillo added.

Montecillo was referring to the latest DOT partial data of tourist arrivals in Central Visayas growing by 3.83 percent year-on-year during the first five months of 2016.

From 2,054,210 in January to May 2015, Central Visayas logged 2,132,800 arrivals within the same period this year.

Banking on the vision of Tourism Secretary Wanda Corazon Teo, Montecillo said she is confident the region will be able to sustain its performance throughout the year.

Gov. Hilario Davide III, in an earlier interview, said he would expect more tourists to come to Cebu once the improvements on the airstrips on Bantayan and Camotes Islands would be in place.

Much to be done

But Edilberto Mendoza, president of the Cebu Association of Tour Operators (CATO), said there are still a lot that can be done along the southern trail especially in towns where there are heritage sites such as Boljoon and Sibonga.

Mendoza said he also saw a lot of potential in canyoneering activities in Badian and Alegria, if only guidelines on safety would already be put in place.

“Once the guidelines are there, I am sure it will bring in more tourists,” he said.

Canyoneering activities in the two towns were suspended last June upon the order of Governor Davide to give the local governments and private stakeholders time to craft safety measures for the attraction.

Mendoza said Cebu has a lot to offer, but problems in infrastructure are also getting in the way of the growth of its tourism industry.

Problems such as traffic congestion and flooding should not be left for the government alone to solve, he said, and that the private sector should also be involved.

“Traffic congestion contributes to tour delays. We, the private sector, can help address this by spreading public awareness. We can also prevent floods by observing proper waste disposal,” said Mendoza.

Other CV provinces

Trailing behind Cebu in tourist arrival volume are Negros Oriental with 292,487, Bohol with 271,144, and Siquijor with 41,750.

Among the four provinces, Siquijor registered the highest growth rate at 44.7 percent which is four times more than the growth rate of Negros Oriental at only 11.87 percent.

Domestic arrivals in the region grew 4.65 percent from 1.18 million in 2015 to 1.23 million in 2016 for the period of January to May.

Top foreign visitors

Foreign arrivals, meanwhile, grew by 3.19 percent from 866,038 last year to 893,684 this year.

Korean nationals remain to be the region’s top visitors with a volume of 312,688 this year, growing 3.12 percent from 303,239 last year.

Japan (144,487), USA (83,004), China (79,446), and Australia (26,368) complete the top five Central Visayas visitors according to country of origin for the period of January to May 2016.

DOT 7 aims to attract 5.8 million tourists by the end of 2016, 1.4 million higher than figures recorded at the end of last year.

Montecillo, who is confident that the region will hit its target goal for 2016, said that she was hoping that all their marketing efforts as well as the participation of private stakeholders in past years would result in an increase in the number of tourist arrivals in the region.

More tourists are also expected to come to the region as the DOT is set to open P1.8 billion in tourism road projects all over Central Visayas this year.
Improved infrastructure was seen to be among the driving force that would help the agency meet its tourism arrival targets for 2016, Montecillo said.

Sectors gaining

Aside from the tourism industry, she said the labor sector also benefited from an increase in arrivals in the region.

“More tourists mean more investments, which will translate to more people hired. Take construction of hotels in Cebu, for example,” Montecillo explained.

A thriving tourism industry, she added, would be a source of revenue as well as a job generator and that everybody would have an opportunity to make money out of it.

The director added that aside from aggressive promotions and marketing, the DOT would also strive to more efficiently gather data from tourism establishments as these would serve as basis for the region’s performance.

Tourist arrivals in the region reached 4.5 million last year, exceeding the DOT’s target of 4.4 million.

This year, DOT is targeting 5.82 million domestic and international tourist arrivals in the region.

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TAGS: arrivals, Cebu, Central Visayas, Department of Tourism, DOT, Rowena Montecillo, tourism

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