June is Cebu Business Month (CBM), and the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) has chosen, wisely, Brigitte Carmel Lim Mueller to chair the tourism sector. Her family’s corporation, Topline Group of Companies, is in the process of creating a marine highway for the island of Cebu.
Brigitte, born in Ozamiz, Misamis Occidental, spent her early schooling in her home city and came to Cebu for her college studies: UP Cebu for a BA degree in Political Science, and Centre for International Education for a BA degree in Business Management.
After college, she managed a McDonald’s outlet in Ozamiz City and from there, moved to Chicago, Illinois where she founded a merchandising company, Causemama/ Captain Pink Merchandise. Back in the Philippines in 2015, she joined her family corporation as vice president of the Topline Business Development Corp. headed by her brother, Eugene Erik Lim. It is a private holding company based in Cebu. The family also owns Island Central Mactan mall.
Among Topline’s subsidiaries are Hi-Tech and Synergy Corp. which provides services focused on automated payment systems (now in use at the Cebu South Bus Terminal); Topline Energy & Power Development in partnership with Excelerate, a Houston based company, for a liquefied natural gas project based in Batangas; through its London subsidiary, Topline Global & Investments, it has partnered with SparBar specializing in sparring/fitness equipment to manufacture its equipment in Cebu; and Topline Marina which aims to decongest inter-island traffic by creating a marine highway for Cebu. Currently, it serves Lapu-Lapu City (Mactan Wharf, Opon Wharf) and Cebu City (Pier 3) and will soon also serve Carbon market and Liloan. Currently using three vessels, it will soon have eight brand-new SeaBuses.
For CBM 2021, Brigitte said the slogan is “Rise Forward,” with rise being the acronym for “Rediscover, Invite, Support, Engage.” Brigitte held a Tourism Coffee Table Discussion last June 3 with industry leaders from both the private and public sector discussing concerns, challenges and expectations. At this discussion, Department of Tourism Region 7 Director Shahlimar Tamano bared that he has been closely working and coordinating with all sectors in Central Visayas to open for tourists.
He also revealed that the department has an allocation for outdoor events like biking, hiking, motocross, diving and other outdoor activities for the region. The tour and travel operators, through Desiree Chan of Southwind Travel and Tours, appealed for economy-driven protocols for the industry, revealing that the majority of the operators have closed their offices for about a year.
Brigitte revealed that there will be a tourism summit on June 24 with the goal of presenting a situational report by tourism stakeholders in the Philippines and Central Visayas; also invited are LGUs to discuss their best practices on how they shifted and adapted the tourism industry in their area in response to the pandemic. Also to be discussed is how to build a resilient, sustainable tourism industry.
Other events Brigitte has scheduled as tourism chairperson are a Tourism Mini Series on Alternative Lodging and Outdoor Educational Tours on July 30, Adventure Activities on Sept. 30 and Foodie Treats & Health and Wellness retreats on Nov. 19. The thrust, said Brigitte, “is to highlight local tourist products and destinations, not just in preparation for the eventual return of foreign tourists but also to encourage Cebuanos to explore the many local attractions that we have right here in our own backyards.”
Brigitte has high hopes for the revival of the tourism industry: “Cebu has a clearer knowledge of the virus (Covid-19) and its transmission mechanism, a wider variety of testing options and more robust tracing mechanism, which give people greater confidence to resume travel while ensuring that health and safety of travelers remain the top priority.”
“Cebu needs to actively manage the risks based on objective evidence and sound tracing capabilities. We cannot afford a broad risk elimination of strategy by shutting ourselves off. We aim to build our position as a safe and trusted hub, to pioneer leading standards in health, safety and service,” she added.
For her part, Brigitte is happy that she is a fitness enthusiast and that her sports/relaxation activities can well be done under current pandemic protocols. She is an OCR (obstacle course racing) athlete, a rock wall climbing enthusiast (she rock climbs in, among other places, Cantabaco, Toledo on a real wall of rock, not an artificially made one), and an advanced Scuba diver.