Tourism, biz chiefs upbeat about sectors’ prospects despite recent clashes

By: Victor Anthony V. Silva April 27,2017 - 10:06 PM

Tourists have appreciated the friendliness of the Cebuanos, which is one of the factors that reminds them of their visit in Cebu. CDN FILE PHOTO

Tourists visiting Cebu enjoy the Sinulog in this January 2016 photo. (CDN FILE PHOTO)

The tourism and business sectors in the region remain upbeat even after the events in Bohol as well as travel advisories issued against visiting Central Visayas.

Glenn Soco, Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) president, said both the region and the whole country were fast to recover from what had happened due to strong initiatives of the private sector and the government.

“Summer is here for local tourists and two months away for foreign tourists,” Soco said.

He also said that Cebu’s and Bohol’s successful hosting of ASEAN-related meetings would help create a positive image of the region to the international community.

“We are resilient and we will move forward,” Soco said.

Clashes, advisories

Earlier this month, the government forces and members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) clashed in the towns of Inabanga and Clarin.

Before and after those events, several countries including the US, UK, China and South Korea have issued travel advisories warning their citizens not to travel to Central Philippines.

Tourism stakeholders felt the brunt of the negative effects of these circumstances but continue to move forward as government troops have already neutralized almost all of the members of the terrorist group involved in the Bohol encounters.

Melanie Ng, president of the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI), said the outlook is still bright for tourism in Central Visayas.

She cited New York–based magazine Travel and Leisure naming Cebu as the world’s second friendliest island.

“Even with the recent events, the beauty of our islands and the friendliness of our people will always beckon visitors and highlight our attractiveness as a tourism destination,” Ng said.

Limited to Bohol

For Edwin Ortiz, a member of the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB), the threat is limited to Bohol and not the rest of the region.

“The threat must be dying down as from what I understand, there are only two of the bandits that have not been caught,” he said.

Ortiz said he talked to the owner of one of the big resorts in the province and was told that there were arrival cancellations up to the first week of May.

However, he said the owner told him that they expected to be fully-booked for the rest of the summer.

“Campaigns by the Department of Tourism (DOT) and TPB must have paid off,” said Ortiz.

In an Inquirer report, Tourism Secretary Wanda Corazon Teo said travel advisories make it difficult to promote tourism in the country.

Intensify selling drive

However, she had remained optimistic as she stressed that the government would intensify its campaign of “selling” the Philippines as a major tourist destination.

“The focus is whenever there are travel advisories, we will be there. I would tell them [tourists] that it is safe to come to this country and promote more the destination,” she was quoted as saying.

Citing the case of Davao City, which had been the subject of several travel advisories, Teo said tourism officials managed to overcome the negative effects of these issuances by intensifying the campaign to promote the city’s attractions.

She said security would always have to be considered, but the DOT would make sure there would a balance between security and leisure.

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TAGS: Abu Sayyaf, bohol, business, Cebu, Central Visayas, destination, SAFE, sector, security, sell, tour, tourism, tourists, trade, Travel

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