DOT insists Cebu still safe for tourists
DESPITE SPATE OF KILLINGS
Cebu remains a safe destination for tourists despite the recent spate of killings, the top official of the Department of Tourism (DOT) said on Saturday.
In her visit to Cebu yesterday, DOT Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat cited some of the reasons why tourists will always flock to Cebu.
“Cebu has the best food, the best spots, and the most hospitable people. That’s what the tourists are looking for,” she said.
Puyat also dismissed claims made by some government officials and those in the business sector that Cebu City has turned into a “Criminal City” because, she said, tourist arrivals in the island this year increased by 27.7 percent.
Puyat also expressed confidence that this upward trend will continue with the opening of the new Mactan-Cebu International Airport last July.
For her part, Cebu City Police Office director Senior Supt. Royina Garma asked both government and private sector leaders to stop inculcating in the public’s mind that killings are prevalent in the city.
“Puro nalang perception. Sige yan ang isipin nila, ini-inculcate nila sa mind ng mga tao,” said Garma.
(It has always been their perception. Now they want the public to think that killings are rampant in the city.)
Garma said that the local officials and other sectors have been insisting that crimes are being committed every day but are not doing anything to address the problem.
“Now they admitted that there are crimes. Kulang kami ng tao, did they do something on their level?” said Garma.
The director said that maintaining peace and order should not be an exclusive responsibility of the police, saying the community and the local government units (LGUs) must also be held accountable.
Last Thursday alone, nine people were killed in the cities of Talisay and Cebu during the police’s One-Time, Big-Time operations while five more were executed in a Cebu City mountain village of Malubog.
Tourism in Cebu
Meanwhile, Cebu is set to host two “huge” aviation summits in 2019 which Puyat hopes will again put the province in the tourism spotlight.
The Routes Development Asia Convention with 800 delegates will run from March 10-12, 2019 while in June 2019, the Center for Asia-Pacific Aviation Summit will also be held here.
Puyat said delegates from the aforementioned summits are expected to visit Cebu’s top tourists attractions and the showrooms of top Cebuano talents like designer Kenneth Cobonpue.
The tourism secretary also reminded local officials to take decisive steps to preserve the province’s natural attractions or follow Boracay’s fate.
“We have been sending out ‘love’ letters to mayors to follow the mandate of the President for sustainable tourism. Many local governments are asking me if they are the next Boracay. So I say, why wait?”
Puyat also commended DOT Regional Director Shalimar Tamano for the initiative of controlling the number of tourists who want to watch and swim with the whale sharks in Oslob town.
Tamano said earlier that the plan to regulate whale shark watching is a step towards sustainable tourism for Oslob.
Meanwhile, various tourism-related issues were brought up during yesterday’s stakeholders’ meeting at the Waterfront Hotel and Casino attended by representatives from the PNP, the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA), local government units, MEGA Cebu, and members of the Movement for a Livable Cebu, among others.
Among the issues raised was the worsening traffic which Cebu Business Club President Gordon Alan Joseph said was one of the major factors affecting business and tourism.
The Movement for a Livable Cebu also raised its concerns over the illegal structures built along the coastline of Mactan.
Puyat said that her office will coordinate with the concerned LGUs and agencies to address these problems.
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