TOURISM stakeholders from Central Visayas and Mindanao met in Cebu yesterday to discuss how to bounce back, following a series of cancellations reported in parts of the country.
The Department of Tourism (DOT) 7 organized the coordination and networking meeting among tourism stakeholders from Regions 7, 10 and 13 as a way to focus on supporting tourism after recent events, including nearly a month of clashes between government forces and terrorist groups in Marawi City in Lanao del Sur and the Abu Sayyaf’s incursion in Bohol last April. (Soldiers, police and local officials in Bohol dealt with the Abu Sayyaf threat within a month.)
Judy Gabato, acting DOT 7 director, told reporters that the networking and coordination meeting with Mindanao tourism stakeholders serves as a message to other regions in the country that there is no competition when it comes to promoting tourism.
Alice Queblatin, president of the Cebu Association of Tour Operation Specialists (CATOS), admitted that security has become a concern for tourists, particularly after the Resorts World Manila attack earlier this month.
She admitted that the Resorts World crisis, which killed 37 persons, was a big blow to the country’s gaming industry. A lone gambler, who later killed himself, was to blame for torching the complex’s casino tables and causing the evacuation of more than 12,000 guests.
Queblatin said that as a way to revive the industry, they are now encouraged to promote inter-regional selling by promoting tourism sites outside their areas as well.
She believes that for now, tourism stakeholders must focus more on sustainability, instead of profit.
Alma Rita Jimenez, DOT undersecretary for rourism regulation, coordination, and resource generation, said there is a need for inter-regional coordination in the tourism sector to ensure that the industry thrives.
Jimenez said that the meeting yesterday was one example of how inter-regional coordination could work.
“Even if there is a crisis in Mindanao, there’s an opportunity for other regions. But reverse the table, then there are opportunities for Mindanao when others are suffering similar problems,” Jimenez said.