Tourism Road Map backed-A A +A
By Mia A. Aznar
Friday, September 21, 2012
LOCAL stakeholders agreed yesterday to support the Cebu Tourism Road Map, which is a medium-term plan for the tourism industry.
The strategic objective of the road map is to make Cebu among Asia’s top tourist destinations of choice, said Cebu Business Club executive director Fernando “Perry” Fajardo. The plan is to place Cebu in league with neighboring Asian destinations like Bali, Phuket and Penang, and not behind them.
Fajardo, who presented the road map, pointed out that Cebu gets only one-third of the tourists Bali attracts. In 2010, Cebu welcomed 833,441 foreign tourists. Bali, on the other hand, managed to see 2.5 million tourists, while Phuket had 1.6 million.
He lamented that in the 1970s, Cebu was the place to be, after it was promoted as “an island in the Pacific.” Today, it has to work hard if it wants to become a destination of choice in Asia, he said.
The Cebu Tourism Road Map 2012-2016 translates the National Tourism Development Plan (NTDP) into “more doable actions” to address local tourism development issues.
The plan took into account existing plans and initiatives and the NTDP, which places Cebu as one of the priority tourism development areas in the country.
The key development strategies include product development, infrastructure development, marketing and promotion, outreach and public involvement, and organization development.
If there is one thing that is positive about Cebu tourism, it is that the growth of foreign tourist arrivals is higher than the growth of domestic tourists. From 2006 to 2011, foreign arrivals had an average annual growth rate of 11.9 percent, while domestic arrivals grew 7.1 percent, although domestic arrivals still outnumber foreign arrivals.
Fajardo identified Cebu’s strengths as having historical heritage, natural attractions, international access, urban amenities and services, and international recognition.
However, he said its infrastructure is poor, it still lacks room accommodations and conference areas, it has no unique culture and an unattractive physical environment.
He pointed out that while some areas may be nice, many areas are littered with garbage and unsightly buildings.
Fajardo said Cebu can ride on the resumption in global growth of tourism, despite a slow recovery from the last global recession. Growth is also expanding due to strong remittances from overseas Filipino workers and the emergence of budget airlines.
He added that the Philippines has seen an improvement in its image, citing its improved ranking in the World Economic Forum’s global competitiveness survey. From 85 in 2010, the Philippines is now ranked 65.
However, threatening its success are strong competition from Bali, Penang and Phuket. He also identified Burma, India and China as possible competitors. Cebu also faces strong competition from Boracay, Camarines Sur, Bohol, Davao and North Luzon.
Rising oil prices could also affect travel activities.
A coalition of business chambers and civic organizations spearheaded the preparation of the Cebu Tourism Road Map to provide a unified direction for Cebu and realize its objectives by helping implement, monitor and evaluate the activities.
The road map includes specific projects and program proposals for the immediate (one to two years) short-term (two to three years) and medium-term (three to five years) periods.
For the immediate projects, the recommendations include the creation of a Cebu-wide tourism body, a one-stop tourist information and service center, a marketing and promotion program, and beautification. Ongoing are the Mactan Circumferential road widening and Naga-Carcar road widening.
Also in the list of immediate projects are the need for the preparation of a Metro Cebu Development Master Plan, Mactan Island Tourism Master Plan and updating of a Cebu City Circumferential Road study.
Under the short-term list, the proposals include the Cebu City Bus Rapid Transit, new Mactan Airport Terminal, H. Cortes St. road widening, Tayud provincial road widening, Cebu north coastal road constructions, widening of roads in Talisay and Naga, and mountain barangay tourism.
For the medium term, recommendations include construction of a Cebu circumferential road, Olango ecotourism bird sanctuary development project, Mactan Aquaville tourism development project, a municipal tourist pier development pier, widening of the road to Hagnaya Port and Cebu southwest road.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 22, 2012.