IF HANDLED properly, the 500th year commemoration of Christianity in Cebu will usher economic growth in the province through faith-based tourism.
Former Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Mina Gabor, during her talk at the Tourism Innovation Forum on Tuesday, June 18, 2019, stressed the importance of faith that is making people move from one country to another.
“Faith makes people travel,” said Gabor, adding that if marketed well, religious tourism can bring in a big volume of arrivals and huge receipts to a destination.
Cebu will have an important role in the 500th anniversary of Ferdinand Magellan’s circumnavigation of the globe on March 16, 2021.
The event, that is expected to attract thousands if not millions of pilgrims, will have a huge impact on the business ecosystem of Cebu.
“You need an impact project that will set the tone for a destination and become like Fatima of Portugal and Sto. Niño to become for the Philippines,” she said.
Gabor said faith-based tourism is one of the earliest forms of travel.
“From time immemorial, since the dawn of humanity, we have been already traveling to the holy sites. And so, it is just a matter of us getting back our generation putting together what we can do,” she said.
As countries around the world, especially in Asia, are opening their borders to tourists, Gabor stressed that tourism initiatives around holy sites like churches and other revered areas should be developed.
“The next great cycle that is fast gaining ground and that is most sustainable is the spiritual, religious faith-based tourism. And the most influential promoter of these programs is our very own Pope Francis when he recently encouraged everyone to go on pilgrimage,” she said.
Gabor said that factors to support faith-based tourism especially in the upcoming 500th year of Christianity in the Philippines should revolve around the accommodation, food supply, package tours and trained religious guides, materials, transportation like airline seats, cruise liners and ships, activities, security and souvenirs.
At present, tour groups in Cebu have crafted tour proposals for faith-based tourism, which covers a walking tour that retraces Cebu’s history in the last 500 years, Marian pilgrimages in northern and southern Cebu; the Bisikleta Tour, and the Sacred Treasures of Cebu Tour. (JOB)