Mactan aims to be stand-alone destination

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Sunday, August 17, 2014


A STAND-ALONE tourism destination.

That is what the Lapu-Lapu City government hopes to achieve as it positions itself as a “Historic Resort City,” said city tourism officer Hembler Mendoza.

“We want to be known not just as a part of Cebu. We want Mactan be known as a stand-alone destination, a kind where a tourist or investor would no longer leave the island because everything is already there, from heritage to business to leisure,” Mendoza told Sun.Star Cebu in an interview.

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As a heritage tourism destination, Mendoza said they want to be known not only for high-end resorts and beaches but also for its rich culture and history.

The city, formerly called Opon, was where the Battle of Mactan took place on April 27, 1521. The warriors of Mactan chieftain Datu Lapu-Lapu defeated Spanish invaders led by Ferdinand Magellan, who was killed in the battle. Lapu-Lapu is considered the first Filipino hero.

Heritage museum

The city commemorates the battle every year in an event called “Kadaugan sa Mactan” or the Victory in Mactan.

Within the year, Mendoza said a museum that will highlight the city’s heritage will be opened to the public. It will be located in Brgy. Gun-ob, across Hoops Dome. They have also reached out to the private sector for the enhancement of the Liberty Shrine. In the pipeline also include the establishment of arts and craft village in Olango Island.

As for business travelers, Mendoza said the local government is also eyeing a convention and exhibition facility in Mactan to cater to the Meetings, Incentives, Convention and Exhibition (Mice) market.

“We are currently encouraging developers to build us a convention facility that can accommodate some 3,000-5,000 people since we have more than 4,000 rooms to offer in Mactan. There is a good location for this facility near the international airport,” said Mendoza.

Currently, it is only Shangri-La Mactan Resort and Spa that can host big Mice events with a capacity of 500-1,000 people.

Lapu-Lapu City, meanwhile, has strengthened its foothold as a leisure destination with the development of new tourism sites and products.

For those going on a day trip, Mendoza suggest they explore Olango Island, the Marine Sanctuary in San Vicente and the Hadsan Beach Resort, which is now a recreational site.

He said the resort now houses the Cebu Yellow Submarine and the two latest attractions: the giant helium air balloon and the Flyboard.

Panorama

Operated by Korean-owned company Aura Inc., the giant helium balloon allows tourists to enjoy a 360-degree panorama view of the Mactan Island. The balloon goes as high as 150 meters above the ground. It has a diameter of 22.8 meters and a height of 34 meters that can accommodate 30 people for every ride.

The company charges different rates for locals and foreigners. A 15-minute ride for locals who are adults cost P1,000 and P700 for children. Adult foreigners are charged $50 while children are charged $30.

The Flyboard, on the other hand, is a watersport that originated in France. It is a type of water jet pack with a 20-foot tube attached to a jetski which supplies water to drive the watercraft up to the air. The new water sport activity, which is operated by Diamond Watersports, costs P4,500 for a 20-minute flyboard experience.

“Compared before, Mactan is now transformed as an island full of fun, an endless fun from day to night,” he said.

With the new city branding, Mendoza expects tourism to further thrive.

“It was clear to the government and its local community that the objective if this project is to increase investment, tourism and job opportunities here and we intend to realize all these,” he said.

It took Lapu-Lapu City a year to brainstorm and conduct series of consultations for the city branding.

Since its official launch last July 25, Mendoza said the Lapu-Lapu City Tourism Office has embarked on various projects based on the new branding. He said the implementation will be done in phases.

Right after the launching, his team started rolling-out the use of geometric designs patterned after Lapu-Lapu’s tattoo in roads, government office facade, public utility vehicles and public markets, as well as in government uniforms among others.

In the coming months, the tourism office will also embark on tourism culture seminars to involve the participation of the local community. The team will also join sales mission here and abroad through the Department of Tourism and conduct familiarization tours.

Applications

Since the start of the year, Mendoza noted his office received more than five tourism-related business applications, which are a mixed of local and foreign investors.

He attributed the growth in business activities to the sustained investor confidence on the local government and the on-going upgrade of international airport and other support infrastructure within Mactan.

While this development paints a rosy picture of the future of Lapu-Lapu’s tourism industry, Mendoza said the local community’s participation and cooperation is vital for the city branding to take off.

“The culture of tourism should be understood and be practiced by everyone. After all, more than the tourist attractions, it is the people and the beautiful experience that makes tourists come back,” said Mendoza.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 18, 2014.

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