Samboan to upgrade roads, homestay options for tourists
Capitalizing on the influx of tourists in Cebu, the southern town of Samboan is working on upgrading their road networks and training personnel to keep up with international standards.
Vice Mayor Emerito Calderon Jr. said they hope to complete upgrades of roads leading to the town’s eight waterfalls in the next two years.
Calderon said did not specify the amount that will be spent for these developments but noted that this is one of the town’s priority programs.
“This is a program that will make our roads safe and make our tourists’ experience memorable,” he said.
Calderon said the number of tourists visiting Samboan was only 16,000 between 2014 to 2015 when Aguinid Falls became a popular destination topic on social media.
In 2016, the number grew to 165,000 tourists. In 2017, the number further increased to 200,000 tourists.
Along with improving the roads, Calderon said community guides are also registered. He said each waterfall has designated guides from the
barangay that it is located.
While the town still has limited accommodation options, Calderon said they are also working on encouraging the locals to consider adopting the homestay alternative.
“Clean rooms are important. If they have extra space in their house, then that (homestay) is possible,” he said.
Calderon said Samboan also get tourists from Mindanao via sea travel as there are daily trips from the town to Dipolog City in Zamboanga del Note province and vice versa.
Samboan is located about 150 kilometers from Cebu City and boasts of natural attractions including waterfalls, lakes, springs, caves, mountains and marine sanctuary.
Its heritage treasures include the Saint Michael the Archangel Parish Church and the three-storey Campanario de Antigua (Ancient Watchtower) which date back to the Spanish colonization era.
Samboan was one of the 22 featured towns and cities during the three-day Lumba’g Laag sa Sugbo.
Lumba’g Laag sa Sugbo is a tourism race organized for the second year by the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) in time for the Cebu Business Month (CBM).
It was held from June 10 to 12 with 18 participating teams.
Calderon said Lumba’g Laag sa Sugbo highlights the natural wonders of Samboan and promotes the town’s eco-tourism destinations.
CBM Tourism Committee Chairperson Edwin Ortiz said the tourism race emphasizes the relevance of eco-tourism as the new agriculture.
“Lumba’g Laag sa Sugbo has a huge impact on these towns and is a big help to locals. By having eco-tourism destinations here, people do not need to go to the city to seek employment. They can find jobs in their hometowns,” he said.
Ortiz said the race also enabled participants to see that there is more to Cebu than beaches.
“We saw that southern and western Cebu has several hidden attractions,” said Ortiz.
CBM Chairperson Benedict “Benny”Que, president of Golden Prince Hotel and Suites and Golden Valley Hotel, said Lumba’g Laag sa Sugbo also allows CCCI to meet and dialogue with officials of different local government units on how they can collaborate in improving tourism programs in their respective municipalities.
Que, who is also a trustee of the Hotels, Resorts, Restaurants Association of Cebu (HRRAC), said they will also support the hospitality trainings of workers employed in pension houses and resorts in these towns.
“We are looking forward to help train them so they can keep up with industry standards. We cannot be left out by the rest of the world,” he said.
Meanwhile, the tourism department is also endorsing arnis as a real Cebuano tourism product.
DOT 7 Regional Director Shahlimar Hofer Tamano said during Thursday’s Tourism Innovation Summit at the Cebu Marco Polo Plaza that arnis is a culture and a sport as well and it needs to be given more recognition in the local scene.
“This is an international product that has not yet received proper government attention,” He said.
Arnis is the system of Filipino fighting arts founded by Remy Presas as a self-defense system. His goal was to create an injury-free training method as well as an effective self-defense system in order to preserve the older Arnis systems.
Tamano also mentioned the RA 9850, an act declaring Arnis as the national martial art and sport of the Philippines that was authored by Senator Miguel Zubiri who patronizes the martial art as well.
As an Arnis enthusiast himself, Tamano would like Cebu to host the international Arnis competition in year 2019 or 2020.
“It is high time that we take it and we insist that all kali eskrima practitioners around the world to visit Cebu and Mactan for pilgrimage to see the real Arnis masters and grand masters who are Cebuanos,” Tamano said.
With Cebu’s as a tourism destination and with its products, Tamano highlights the importance of safety and security of tourists.
He said he would want businesses to be accredited and that these would meet the international standards of cleanliness.
He said that security and safety is not only the responsibility of the police and defense officials but also of the tourism stakeholders, staffs, managers, and even chefs to make sure that the tourists are treated properly.
“A happy tourists is one who arrives back home safe and sound and that is the ultimate success as far as we are concerned,” he said.
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