Chinatown will boost downtown’s image as tourist spot
HAVING an official Chinatown in downtown Cebu City would boost the area’s image as a tourist attraction, stakeholders said.
In fact, the Cebu Association of Tour Operation Specialists (CATOS) and its member tour operators have been referring to the area as Cebu’s Chinatown.
These areas include the streets of Colon, Legaspi, Manalili, Magallanes, all the way to the Carbon Public Market, said CATOS President Alice Queblatin.
“An official declaration by the city will hopefully lead to the improvement of infrastructure, better drainage, cleaner streets, and restoration of the Chinese character of the area and will enhance its touristic appeal,” she told Cebu Daily News when sought for comment about a proposed ordinance to establish the downtown area as Cebu’s Chinatown.
Although the downtown area has been known as a center for business and shopping activities long ago, it has become rundown in recent years.
Buildings are dilapidated, drainage lines are clogged and the area has become infamous for incidents of pickpocketing and snatching.
This is why Queblatin said these issues should be addressed.
If there’s anybody that would be thrilled to explore a local Chinatown, it would be Chinese tourists, she said.
Chinese tourists coming to Cebu have been increasing, especially in the previous year.
Data from the Department of Tourism (DOT) 7 showed that there were a total of 429,306 Chinese tourists who visited Central Visayas in 2017. They have replaced Japanese tourists as the second top tourist market in the region just behind Koreans.
Creating or improving areas that would appeal to Chinese tourists would be good for the industry, CATOS said.
“It will heighten our affinity with them as we expound the Chinese influence in our cuisine, language, family values, business acumen, or total lifestyle.
The colorful mix of our Western and Asian culture makes Cebu more interesting,” Queblatin said.
She added that Colon St. and Magallanes St. will make a good option for downtown shopping as well as an interesting walking tour.
Aside from Chinese tourists, other nationalities would also be interested in this kind of attraction, said Cebu Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce (CFCCC) President Francisco Benedicto.
“That will make Cebu a kind of tourist destination for foreign visitors especially those coming from China, Singapore, Taiwan and Hongkong. Other big cities in the world also have a Chinatown and sometimes, the tour operators include the Chinatown in the itinerary,” Benedicto said.
He added that the Chinatown would be another avenue to generate domestic income since the tourists would be spending time while they shop and dine at the stalls.
Cebu City Councilor Jerry Guardo proposed the ordinance that pushes for the creation of a Chinatown in the Downtown area.
According to Guardo, the creation of a Cebu Chinatown is timely following the announcement of Assistant Secretary Jonas George Soriano of the Office of the Cabinet Secretary that the country is expecting to accommodate up to 10 million Chinese tourists this year.
The downtown area, particularly along Borromeo and Manalili streets, have all sorts of shops and business establishments predominantly owned by
Filipino-Chinese businessmen that makes it the best venue to celebrate the trade history of Filipino and Chinese forefathers, said Guardo.
The specific boundaries of the proposed Cebu Chinatown are yet to be identified though together with the City Planning and Development Office (CPDO).
The ordinance also aims to create a Chinatown Development Council to be chaired by the City Mayor and members of the private sector such as representatives of the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI), CFCCC, and some Chinese educational institutions.
The council would be mandated to formulate a Development Master Plan to be used in enhancing the downtown area into a Chinatown.
The ordinance was referred to the Committee on Laws for legal reference and to the city’s Cultural and Historical Affairs Office (CHAO) during the council’s regular session last April 24.
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