How Cebu can maintain status as best island destination

By Jose Santino S. Bunachita, Morexette Marie B. Erram |July 12,2018 - 09:10 PM

The diverse offerings that Cebu has for tourists like canyoneering in its southern Cebu hills and rivers, and its white sand beaches are among the factors that make Cebu a top tourism destination.

Maintaining security, improving infra top tourism, biz leaders’ to do list

Safety and security remain the priorities of government and industry leaders in Cebu to make sure it continues to become an attractive destination for tourists, both foreign and local.

Department of Tourism (DOT-7) Regional Director Shalimar Tamano said this has been their office’s major concern as he continues to meet with peace and order agencies to ensure the safety of tourists.

“A happy tourist is one who goes home safe. That is why we will continue to talk about security and safety. It is really important,” he told Cebu Daily News.

Improving tourism-related infrastructure is also key in sustaining the continued influx of tourists to Cebu.

Reacting to the inclusion of Cebu as one of the 15 best islands in the world by a poll made on readers of international travel magazine Travel + Leisure, Tamano said this is something that stakeholders and Cebuanos in general could expect.

“Cebuanos are already expecting this. It’s not something new to us. The Cebuanos’ hard work has helped us improve all these years,” Tamano said

2.2M visitors

He stressed that out of the 2.8 million foreign tourists who visited Central Visayas in 2017, 2.2 million visited Cebu.

And so far this year, Tamano said things are “looking very good” as long as there are no untoward incidents happening or natural calamities.

Infra security

But aside from safety and security, Tamano said both government and the private sector should strive for better tourism-related infrastructure especially following the opening of the P17.5 billion Terminal 2 of the Mactan Cebu International Airport (MCIA).

The new terminal, which is exclusive for all international flights to and from Cebu, is expected to increase the capacity of the MCIA to 12.5 million passengers a year.

Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña also highlighted the need for both government and private sector to work together in making Cebu safe especially for tourists.

He said the recent spate of killings in Cebu may have dire effects on Cebu’s tourism industry.

“Yes, it would. (It’s going to be the) same reason why people would not go to Marawi,” he said.

Nevertheless, he said Cebu is glad with Cebu’s recognition as an attractive island for tourists.

Islands is key

He explained that promoting islands, such as Cebu, as tourist destinations is instrumental in making sure that they are recognized as one of the world’s best.

“I know the key to tourism is islands. That’s the key,” he said.

Cebu was ranked 8th out of 15 islands from all over the world in the list released by Travel + Leisure. Another Philippine island in the list is Palawan which is at 6th place.

Java, Indonesia, a first-timer on the list, bagged the top spot which used to be held by Palawan last year.

Noticeably, Boracay was not included in the list. It was third on the list last year. The popular island is currently undergoing rehabilitation after President Rodrigo Duterte ordered for it, citing problems on sewage and encroachment.

Protect product

This is why other tourism stakeholders also underscored the importance of making sure that Cebu’s natural tourist spots are well maintained to continue attracting tourists.

“The destination is really the product. Hence, we should protect the product. Stakeholders can sustain this recognition by doing what others in the notch higher than Cebu are doing. This may take some little research and benchmarking,” said Cebu Provincial Tourism Officer Joselito “Boboi” Costas.

He said turning to sustainable tourism is the way to go.

“This is a visitor survey so visitor experience should be a top priority: how to make their stay memorable, safe, meaningful,” he added.

Diverse offerings

Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) President Stanley Go also said Cebu’s diverse offerings make it an attractive destination.

While the island is famed for its white sand beaches, he said tourists can also easily opt to explore mountain trails and waterfalls or mountaintops like in Balamban.

“It’s an honor for us to be recognized. Learning from the experience of Boracay, we have to take care of our natural resources. Because if not, what will be the reason why tourists will come here?” he said.

The same suggestion was given by Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) President Antonio Chiu.

Big challenge

While the recognition is a welcome news and confirmation of Cebu’s beautiful natural resources, it should also be a challenge.

“The big challenge for Cebu is preserve our natural resources and to fast track our infrastructure projects in preparation for more tourists who will be visiting our beautiful island,” Chiu said.

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