Monday, January 26, 2009 [ sunstar.com.ph ]
TOURISM stakeholders remain optimistic about Cebu’s tourism industry this year amid reports of a slowdown in the travel market in some parts of the world due to the global financial crisis.
This optimism can be attributed to Cebu’s “strategic geographical location” and availability of more flights to neighboring provinces and Asian regions.
Charles Lim, special tourism envoy for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), said that despite the economic slowdown, Cebu’s “greater accessibility” to other areas is increasing the province’s tourism potential this year.
“Cebu would be a hub for tourists who want to go to Boracay, Davao, Cagayan and even some parts of Luzon without them
having to go to Manila,” he told Sun.Star Cebu.
He added that Cebu is also becoming an ideal point for travelers who want to go to Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and other destinations in the Asean region.
To be able to continue tapping this potential—especially during the economic slowdown—Lim advised hotels, resorts and tour operators to aggressively market their destinations to specific target sectors.
In response, the members of Cebu Association of Tour Operators (Cato) is planning to go around domestic destinations this year to check out the latest events and products that they can help promote to both local and foreign visitors.
“We want a hands-on experience. We have to see the destination so that we’ll know what to sell. If we have inquiries from international people, we can tell them that they can come to Cebu and have a side trip to Cagayan de Oro and then go to Dipolog, for example,” said newly-inducted Cato president Zenaida Chua.
She disclosed that about 16 travel agents will be going to Dipolog City in Zamboanga del Norte next month. They are coordinating with the tourism office of Northern Mindanao for a possible trip there by March.
Chua, also managing director of Worldwide Travel and Tours Inc., said that local tour operators’ promotions are limited by packages that include Cebu, Bohol, Boracay and some neighboring areas. Cato wants to expand its offers to include activities in other provinces like sightseeing in Davao and whitewater rafting in Cagayan de Oro.
She said that despite concerns of several tourists over expensive hotel costs, her group maintains a positive outlook this year and hopes for an increase in tourist arrivals coming to Cebu. They observed that Americans, Europeans, Koreans and Japanese continue to visit the province.
Cato is also anticipating an increase in domestic travelers this summer as the group keeps on encouraging families to visit local destinations first before heading to other countries for vacation. (NRC)