Eco-tourism to set Cebu apart

PRESERVATION of the country’s eco-tourism sites could differentiate Cebu from the world, a business leader said.

Fresh from attending the 2019 Gulfood, the largest annual food, beverage and hospitality exhibition in Dubai, Stanley Go, president of the Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) said many of the participating countries during the expo have showcased distinct products to offer to the world market, making him think what could be Cebu’s offering that would truly stand out.

“We have dried mangoes, but other countries are producing that too. I think we need to reassess, look for that unique selling point that we can develop,” said Go.

He said the country has to work on developing high-value products or initiate sustainable efforts to be known globally, rather than just be known for sending its labor force abroad.

Go said the Boracay Island rehabilitation, which caught the attention of the world, along with the Save Manila Bay project could be the country’s powerful marketing asset.

According to Go, the Philippines, particularly Cebu, is known for being a tropical paradise with plenty of natural resources to boast of.

“We can be a leader in preserving our eco-tourism destinations,” he said. “Maybe this could be our unique selling point.” Robert Lim Joseph of The Manila Yacht Club earlier tapped the Rotary Club of Metro Cebu to replicate the Manila Bay cleanup in Cebu City.

Joseph, who is chairman emeritus of Network of Independent Travel Agencies, said Cebu needs to be aggressive in saving and preserving its natural resources because of its high tourism potential.

“We need to replicate the same efforts in Cebu because this island is one of the country’s biggest tourism drawers,” he said.

A total of eight million tourists visited Cebu in 2018, 3.6 million of which were foreign tourists.

Joseph stressed though that the cleanup is just part of the big plan, and that the long-term project is to encourage all establishments to set up their own sewage treatment facilities.

“I am urging my fellow Rotarians to call on our officials in the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to get samples of water in all outflows of Cebu City and check for presence of fecal coliform bacteria,” said Joseph.

This way, Joseph said, efforts in sustainable tourism can be sped up.

The presence of fecal coliform bacteria in aquatic environments indicates that the water has been contaminated with the fecal material of humans or other animals.

Joseph already expects bad results of fecal coliform levels, but said this is the only way Cebu can determine the next steps to protect its pristine beaches and other tourism attractions.


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