Capitol to train spotlight on adventure, faith-based tourism

By Jose Santino S. Bunachita |February 18,2018 - 11:21 PM

Old churches in Cebu will be improved by the Capitol as part of its thrust to develop faith-based tourism sites / CDN FILE PHOTO

Expect adventure tourism and faith tourism to flourish in Cebu this year.

Cebu Provincial Tourism Officer Joselito “Boboi” Costas said the provincial government is now developing more destinations for tourists this year as they continue training different local government units (LGUs) on sustainable tourism.

“Watch out for new destinations — local and community-based. We are emphasizing adventure safety and tourist safety. Also faith-based, because we’re running up to 2021,” he told reporters.

In 2021, Cebu will be the center of celebration in Southeast Asia for the 500th year since the first navigation around the globe by Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan and consequently the 500th year of Christianization in the Philippines.

Costas said organizers of the global activity earlier visited and met with Capitol officials to discuss the upcoming event.

“In terms of faith-based tourism, we want to improve our value chain, especially in our cultural-heritage tours. 2021 is the quincentennial celebration of Magellan’s death. There is a ecclesiastical component in that because that is the conversion of the Philippines, especially Cebu,” he explained.

The Provincial Tourism Office (PTO) will be improving existing tourist sites, he said, like churches in Cebu towns, watch towers and the like.

This is why Costas said they will be focusing on involving communities within these tourist spots leading up to the event, with the projected influx of tourists in 2021, especially from European countries and Catholics from all over the world.

Without mentioning religion, he said “religious buffs” from other countries are also expected to fly to Cebu for the different activities to be in place in time for the celebration.

Training

The PTO, which was allotted P6 million for its operations this year, will use part of its budget to train LGUs to develop new tourist spots and improving existing ones.

At the same time, the PTO will be hiring a person who will be in charge of developing adventure tourism sites in the province.

“We also want to focus on adventure tourism this year. We want it to be safe. We are calling stakeholders especially in towns with heavy tourist traffic to institute programs. And legislation will also be much help on this especially in terms of regulation,” he said.

Costas cited the recent road incidents involving tourists due to drivers who fell asleep at the wheel.

Last January, seven balikbayans died when their van rammed into a tree after their driver fell asleep while driving at high speed in Alegria town.

Earlier this month, another van carrying Chinese tourists was involved in a vehicular accident when their driver also fell asleep while driving. Fortunately, the tourists only had minor injuries.

Capitol officials have started meeting with officials from the Land Transportation Office (LTO), Department of Transportation (DOTr), and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to discuss these concerns.

Vice Gov. Agnes Magpale has also called for another meeting with these stakeholders to further discuss concerns on tourist transport.

Big 5

Aside from the faith-based and adventure tourism, Costas, in an earlier interview, also said they will continue to push the Big 5 even as they are now working on other destinations that they can develop.

Costas was referring to the five destinations in southern Cebu that are being packaged as eco-tourism destinations by the Cebu Provincial government and called the Big 5: Aloguinsan, Alegria, Alcoy, Argao and Boljoon.

“There are a lot of inquiries regarding the Big 5. They can be independent tours or circuit tours. We made sure the local communities were ready to take in guests. Like the very successful Aloguinsan community-based project which took two years to gestate, it will also probably take the same period. That’s why we have to build on the lessons of Aloguinsan,” he said.

The Big 5 will target ”nature lovers who are also conscious of the philosophy of responsible and sustainable tourism,” said Costas, noting the DOT’s observation that this market is growing.

When asked about Oslob, which has become a tourism destination in Cebu because of its whale watching activities, he said they are now working with the LGU on making this activity not only sustainable but also to address the need to protect the whale sharks.

“Educate and involve local communities in whale shark conservation,” he explained.

“Right now, we are helping the LGU in monitoring environmental impact and public education on sustainable tourism,” he added.

Costas said he met two Australian whale shark scientists last November who promised to help them understand whale shark tourism.

“Visitor management. Establish carrying capacity ( how many tourists are allowed per day to ensure maximum satisfaction and preserve ecosystem). Then follow an animal-tourist interaction protocol. These should be strictly enforced with penalties. No compromise,” he said.

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