CLOSE to 250,000 local and foreign visitors are expected to arrive in Cebu in the next two weeks to join the Sinulog festival.
With this, the Department of Tourism (DOT) Central Visayas assured that the province remains safe despite the United Kingdom's issuance of a travel advisory discouraging its nationals from traveling to southern Cebu.
In a forum last Tuesday, January 8, GMR Megawide Cebu Airport Corporation Terminal 1 operations head Neneth Castillon said that last year, they recorded around 223,000 tourist arrivals for Sinulog.
"For 2019, we are projecting a four percent increase in domestic and international arrivals. We expect more because of the participation of a contingent from Wonju, South Korea in the grand parade (on Sunday, January 20)," she said.
With the Mactan Cebu International Airport having seven flights connecting flights to South Korea daily, Castillano said it is not a surprise that South Koreans remain as the top tourists in the province.
"So this is why were expecting an influx of travelers. Were ready and were preparing a warm welcome for both our local and foreign visitors," she said.
The airport management is also working closely with the DOT, especially on the Balik Cebu program on Thursday, January 17.
The Balik Cebu program aims to offer tourists and returnees an “unparalleled Cebu experience."
Judy Gabato, DOT-Central Visayas chief tourism operations officer, said they are closely coordinating with the police to keep the festival safe and peaceful, especially for tourists.
"Were actively coordinating, based on our Central Visayas situation. Our local and and national law enforcement agencies are fully capable on the updates of our travelers' safety concerns. Were very happy with the presentation of our authorities last Monday (January 7) that it's very clear, there are no recent issues when it comes to terrorism in Central Visayas, specifically in southern Cebu. There are also no cancelations, in fact, there are a lot of inquiries for southern Cebu. This is really positive for us. Were still monitoring, it doesn't mean were complacent," she said.
Meanwhile, Sinulog Foundation Inc. (SFI) marketing and promotions head Stephanie Villarico said they will start selling tickets for the grand parade on Thursday, January 10.
Tickets ranging from P1,000 to P3,000 are available at the SFI office at the Cebu City Sports Center, the concierge desk at Robinsons Galleria and at the Balik Cebu booth in Ayala Center Cebu.
Online purchase is also available for spectators who cannot physically come to the ticketing booths.
Green and pink tickets will still cost P1,000; yellow tickets, P1,200; blue tickets, P2,500; and red tickets at P3,000.
Villarico said they have prepared around 7,000 tickets for the event.
"Were pretty okay in terms of preparations. We have not actively invited anyone, except for the President (Rodrigo Duterte). Any politician is welcome to join the festival, but they will not be given speaking parts. Should he grace our invitation, only the President will be given a chance to speak," she added.