THE new Department of Tourism (DOT) director for Central Visayas plans to further develop Cebu’s “volunteer tourism.”

In an interview with Sun.Star Cebu Tuesday, Maria Rica Bueno said that such type of tourism poses a promising volume of travelers for Region 7.

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“Many people in Asian nations and other developed countries who would go on sabbatical would want to use their time for responsibilities and hence, would volunteer for (civic) activities here,” she said.

She cited exchange students and people from Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, United Kingdom, and United States who would engage in volunteer tourism.

Volunteer tourists refer to individuals who use their vacation time to volunteer in meaningful activities for a community while taking time to explore the country’s culture and destinations.

She added that she is also planning to get more youth travelers for Cebu and the rest of the region.

Bueno, who previously headed DOT Team Asia Pacific, said that she is yet to explore Cebu further to identify other areas the province needs to develop.

She was designated the region’s new director last December and was formally inducted in her post last Jan. 9, which signaled the retirement of outgoing DOT 7 director Patria Aurora Roa.

Bueno said, she will continue the programs started by Roa, who had been in the region for 17 years.

Bueno, 44, has been in DOT’s planning and product research for than 20 years. She is from Cotabato City.

She said that while she is not from Central Visayas, she is very familiar with the region due to her being part of DOT’s planning division.

Roa, in a separate interview with Sun.Star Cebu, said that Cebu is in “good hands,” given Bueno’s experience and expertise.

During a farewell party held for her at Laguna Garden Café, she said that Cebu is now in a position that other provinces in Central Visayas want to emulate.