CEBU CITY, Philippines — Cebu province is looking at rebranding itself to become the “health and wellness” destination in the country as it moves towards further easing movement restrictions and reopening its tourism industry.
While Cebu is renowned for its rich tourism offerings, the local government here is also considering to bring to its tourism front the native health and wellness regimens that currently promotes to fight the coronavirus disease.
The planned rebranding as a health and wellness destination, on top of its tourism package offerings, came after the Capitol’s promotion of home remedies for boosting the immune system in the middle of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
Garcia said the rebranding into a health and wellness hub is but proper since the province was one, if not the first, to promote health regimens as a means of combating COVID-19.
Among those promoted by the province as a health regimens are steam inhalation or tuob, megadoses of natural vitamin C from citrus fruits and supplements, turmeric, and the “curative” effect of the sea breeze.
“If you will strengthen, boost your immune system; if your mental health will be taken care of; if you will be able to have some calmness and peace so that you will have wellness in your life, then I believe, you will be in the best position to fight COVID-19 more than all the (antiseptic) alcohol in the world,” Governor Gwendolyn Garcia said.
The tourism industry, considered as the bread and butter of Cebu’s economy, has been one of the sectors that suffered most in the economic blows brought by the coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent lckdowns imposed by the government to stop the spread of the virus.
With the province’s current status as under general community quarantine (GCQ), leisure activities are still not permitted.
However, the provincial government now has a pending appeal before the national Interagency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) to further relax its protocols and shift to a modified GCQ.
If the IATF grants the province’s request, the shift to MGCQ is expected this Independence Day, June 12.
“Under GCQ, leisure activity, di man gihapon allowed. But we have to define, unsa man ning tourism? Is it a leisure activity or it is an economic driver that provides livelihoods and therefore, must be viewed as such? No so much nga leisure kay gusto maglaag-laag but more so that it provides jobs to our people,” Garcia said.
The famous tourism offerings of the province before the pandemic include the whale shark watching in Oslob, beaches and island hopping, canyoneering, mountain trekking, and heritage site visits in the south; ecotourism in the west; and more beaches and island hopping in the north.
“Ang worst hit gyud karon is the tourism industry. Kita, Cebu, economic driver baya gyud ni ang Tourism Industry sa tibuok island of Cebu. Lisod kaayo ang ilang giagian ron. Nangasira ang mga resorts ug pagsira ani nga mga resorts, daghan kaayo ang nawad-an og trabaho.
On Tuesday, the mayors of some towns that have tourism destinations and offerings met with Garcia and Regional Director Shalimar Tamano of the Department of Tourism in Central Visayas (DOT-7), where they discussed the direction of reopening the tourism industry soon.
Garcia said that on top of the health and wellness tourism promotion, the provincial government and tourism stakeholders will also craft operating protocols for each tourism activity in order to allow for its reoperation.
The mayors, DOT-7 and Garcia are set to meet next Wednesday, June 10, to finalize the protocols for each tourism activity. /bmjo