Cebu tourism stakeholders map plans to revive tourism in typhoon-hit areas
With at least three known tourism destinations in Cebu among the hardest hit by super typhoon Yolanda, tourism stakeholders initiated a dialogue with the local governments to map plans that would expedite recovery in these areas.
Newly appointed Hotel Resort and Restaurant Association of Cebu (HRRAC) president, Cenelyn Manguilimotan said they are talking with several tourism organizations and government units to draft a master plan for the recovery of the islands of Bantayan, Malapascua and Camotes.
“These are popular diving sites in Cebu and we can’t just wait and see where they go with recovering from this devastation. Bantayan Island is known for its fine white sand and has been compared to Boracay. Malapascua is a diving capital and personally I always go diving there while Camotes Island is known as an iconic island of Cebu which still has a lot of potential for growth,” she said.
Manguilimotan said they feel they must do something and talked with other organizations like CATO (Cebu Association of Travel Operators) and NAITAS (National Association of Independent Travel Agencies (NAITAS).
She said they also talked with Cebu provincial government and Lapu-Lapu City tourism office through Hembler Mendoza for some projects.
One of these plans is to do a “Tourism Sale” where all tourism stakeholders from accommodations, tour operators, airline companies and more can offer discounted packages in booths that will be set up at the Boulevard in North Reclamation Area.
The packages will include offerings in the three islands as a way to restart tourism activities in these areas.
“We will also be working closely with the DOT (Department of Tourism) for this project as well as stakeholders in these islands to know how we can better help them but we’ll have to finalize the date,” Manguilimotan said.
Based on their meeting last Tuesday, stakeholders are looking to launch the sale as part of the Sinulog celebrations in January.
“We want to push through with the project but maybe with a different tagline. The challenge now is everybody is busy, these months are the busiest months for hotels and resorts. Aside from doing relief operations it’s also budgeting time or most finalizing their budgets. Then comes Christmas and New Year and then Sinulog. So looks like majority wants to do it around January and can form part of the Sinulog Week,” she said.
Manguilimotan said a John Ford Coley concert will be held where all proceeds will be donated to Bohol and other areas badly hit by the two recent calamities.
She said a master plan is needed in order to organize what needs to be done first to restore these areas.
“Before the typhoon, we had plans for Bohol already and had met several times with tour operators for packages that will highlight Bohol again. With this, we have to plan again to promote Bantayan, Malapascua and Camotes island,” she said.
Manguilimotan said these restoration efforts will have to be done simultaneously with relief efforts, which is a huge task.
Just like what stakeholders in Bohol did, Manguilimotan said tourism activities should resume in these areas where most residents rely on tourism for their livelihood.
“We have seen damaged infrastructures, people losing their homes, damaged resort facilities and even before they can rebuild their facilities it is important that tourism business comes back. Initially we can capitalize on strategies that will not need so much of these infrastructures like sports tourism, overnight camping on the beach, and wellness attraction,” she said.
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