Cebu needs tourism body for branding, coordination, HRRAC official suggests

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Friday, August 15, 2014


CEBU may have gotten recognition for being an island destination, but for Hotels, Resorts and Restaurants Association of Cebu (HRRAC) president Cenelyn Manguilimotan, it can be so much more.

Manguilimotan, who is also general manager of Cebu Parklane International Hotel, said Cebu covers the full spectrum of tourism, including culture and heritage, food, education, medical tourism, adventure sports and Mice (meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions).

“We can be the tourism hub of the Philippines,” she said.

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She noted that Cebu has good universities that can offer courses to foreign students and good hospitals than can accept foreign patients. Other places around the province can become adventure sports destinations if only they are packaged right.
Its central location and access via land, sea and sky makes it ideal for Mice, which Manguilimotan said is a huge market. “Even if we don’t consider the international market, Cebu is in the center and can host many regional conferences being in the middle,” she said.

What she hopes to see for the industry is a single body tasked to make an inventory of all the things Cebu has to offer, monitor how these are being promoted and developed and bid for events to be held in Cebu.

She is supportive of a bill seeking to make a permanent position for tourism officers in local government units, saying having such officers will require a qualified person to handle a locality’s tourism development. She added that they can even become that body that monitors Cebu’s tourism development.

Manguilimotan said having a single body to monitor tourism developments in Cebu will ensure efforts are integrated and coordinated. She suggests that that body go places and make bids to host events that are suited for what Cebu has to offer.

Beyond getting tourists to come and earn money for the locals, Manguilimotan said the preservation of destinations should also be taken into consideration. Other concerns include sex tourism, pollution and environmental impacts of more tourists. While there are laws in place, Manguilimotan is not sure who makes sure these are implemented.

Manguilimotan said that having a single body makes the promotion of destinations more effective, rather than a scattered approach that is currently being done by each LGU. As an example, she noted that only Lapu-Lapu City seems to be aggressive in promoting sports tourism when there are many ideal places in Cebu that could host adventure sports events.

Manguilimotan also said that not all municipalities can become destinations but most are trying to be, without considering sustainability. Rather, she said, surrounding areas can support a nearby destination by becoming part of the value chain, providing products and other resources instead of competing with an established destination by copying what has been done.

'Their own thing’

Although the Department of Tourism has crafted the National Tourism Development Plan, Manguilimotan said Cebu can benefit from its own roadmap that considers marketing, promotions and sustainability.

“Right now, everybody is doing their own thing. Sometimes, the tourist gets to a destination before any guidelines are set,” she lamented. She fears that some things are being duplicated because different groups are working on their own.

Although private stakeholders have been at the forefront of the tourism promotion of Cebu, Manguilimotan said more support from both local and national government agencies is needed to come up with better policies and infrastructure. MEA

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 16, 2014.

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