A tourist stop in an industrial hub

By Victor Anthony V. Silva |November 03,2017 - 10:10 PM

Manuel Gruenberg, Waterworld operations manager (center), together with Waterworld officials shows an artist’s rendering of the Waterworld Cebu that will be built in Barangay Opao, Mandaue City, during Saturday’s press briefing at Mooon Cafe in Parkmall Mandaue.

After being known as the industrial hub in Central Visayas, Mandaue City is now primed to become Cebu’s newest tourist stop with an upcoming three-hectare water park in the city.

The multi-million project which is expected to be fully operational in 2019 is a testament to the growing attractiveness of the metropolitan city as an investment destination.

The Iloilo-based Eon Group of Companies, led by its chairman and chief executive officer Felix Tiu, is investing P200 million to P350 million for the construction of Waterworld Cebu, pegged to become a prime tourist destination in the city as well in all of Cebu.

“Cebu has always been known for its diverse tourist attractions. I am very happy that Mandaue will have its own attraction because over the years, it has always been Lapu-Lapu City and Cebu City. They just pass by Mandaue,” Edilberto Mendoza, past president of the Cebu Association of Tour Operations Specialists (Catos), told Cebu Daily News.

Tourists coming from the Mactan-Cebu International Airport in Lapu-Lapu City will have to pass through Mandaue City before getting to other places in the province, including Cebu City southward and Consolacion northward.

With close to half of Cebu’s export companies found in Mandaue, the city has been dubbed as the industrial hub in Central Visayas and hosts around 10,000 industrial and commercial businesses.

Although it has many points of interests, destinations and attractions, Mandaue City is not really recognized as a tourist spot, welcoming only 24,634 foreign and 66,578 visitors between January and December 2016, according to data from the Department of Tourism-Central Visayas (DOT-7).

During the same period, Cebu City welcomed 690,185 foreign and 1.6 million domestic visitors; Cebu province, 261,806 domestic and 127,843 foreign; and Lapu-Lapu City, 316,199 domestic and 1.04 million foreign.

Mendoza said that with the upcoming attraction that is Waterworld Cebu, people will have more reasons to stop by Mandaue City and that he expects a change in the province’s tourism landscape.

Mandaue City Vice Mayor Carlo Fortuna, who was present during the groundbreaking ceremony for the project last Sunday, in a Facebook post described it as the “newest landmark” in the city and the “biggest tourist destination” in Cebu.

Fortuna affirmed a comment on his post that said this would bring more opportunities to those living in Mandaue City.

While the project is solely a private undertaking, Fortuna said the city government fully supports it.

Anticipating the influx of people that the water park will bring in two years, Fortuna said the city government required the developer to come up with a comprehensive traffic plan before allowing them to begin work.

Manuel Gruenberg, operations manager at Waterworld, said there are already many waterparks in Cebu but none as big as the project they are undertaking.

The Eon Group operates the 1.2-hectare Waterworld Iloilo, the first water park in the Visayas and the first to run solar-powered in the Philippines.

“We began conceptualizing for the park in Iloilo in 2015 and began operations at the end of 2016. It was really successful, even going beyond our expectations. That was when we immediately sat down to plan for Cebu,” he said.

Waterworld Iloilo gets 300 to 500 visitors during regular days and up to 1,500 visitors, mostly locals, during summer.

Gruenberg said what made them decide to expand to Cebu after Iloilo is its population, which stood at 4.6 million of the independent cities of Cebu, Lapu-Lapu and Mandaue as of 2015.

According to the 2015 census, the population of Iloilo province is only 1.9 million and 2.3 million when Iloilo City is included.

“Not to mention the 5,000 tourists who come to Cebu every day. The market is really bigger here,” he said.

Gruenberg said they are looking to tap just 10 percent of that, but the real thrust of the company is to allow Cebuanos to enjoy the amenities of a water park without going to countries like Hong Kong, Singapore or Malaysia.

He said that they are still finalizing the rates, but said locals will get as much as 50 percent off on entrance fees.

The water park’s main attractions are its water activities, which include extreme slides such as the 15-meter Mat Racer, 180-meter Speed Shooter, Tornado, Space Hole, 140-meter Loop Slide, Family Camel Slide and Family Rapid Slide.

It will also feature an Aqua House, a 1,250-square meter multi-slide structure that includes different water activities such as seven different types of slides, two-piece five-tonner buckets for splashing, and five different water sprays.

The park will also feature Water Play, a playground with 10 water spray creatures and structures. It will also house the 200-meter long and four-meter wide Rapid River which has three water shower bridges, supported floaters and life vests.

Waterworld Cebu will also feature a 1,500-square meter Wave Pool with 1.5-meter high wave and can accommodate 1,000 people.

Park amenities include 200 affordable paid parking slots, free shower and dressing room, souvenir shop, lockers, rentable tables, day use suites, lounge chairs and kiosks.

Guests also have a number of dining options at the water park, including cuisine from different cultures including Filipino, Mexican, Korean, Italian, American and Chinese.

The Waterworld Cebu Complex will also be home to Amazing World, an amusement park, as well as the Waterworld Resort Hotel and Conference Center.

Among the other water parks in Cebu are JPark Island Resort and Waterpark in Lapu-Lapu City, which features private tubs, hot tubs, and whirlpools inside and around its hotel rooms; eight restaurants and bars to choose from; and a wide array of fun activities.

The Sky Waterpark Cebu in Mandaue City is also the country’s first and only facility of its kind built above ground since it is located on the roof deck of J Centre Mall along A.S. Fortuna Street.

There are at least 16 recognized water parks in the Philippines, characterized by their water play areas, such as water slides, splash pads, spraygrounds, lazy rivers, wave pools, or other recreational bathing, swimming, and barefooting environments.

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