THE Cebu Provincial Government and its sister province Fujian in China have strengthened their tourism collaboration via exchange and cross-promoting tourist destinations, among the series of renewed cooperation between the two parties.
Both provinces celebrated their fifth anniversary of sisterhood on Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2023, in which Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia welcomed the 88 delegates from Fujian led by their governor, Zhao Long, at the Capitol Social Hall in Cebu City.
An agreement was signed by Cebu Provincial Tourism Officer Maria Lester Ybañez and Lin Xiangdong, director general of the Fujian Provincial Department of Cultural and Tourism, to formalize the cooperation.
The said agreement was to establish friendly consultation mechanisms, strengthen support for promotional events, and bolster mutual brand promotion.
Garcia and Long have also signed another agreement called the “Silk Road Partnership,” which will deepen their relations and further enhance their cooperation in trade and connectivity, tourism, agriculture, infrastructure, and people-to-people exchanges, stressing the importance of promoting the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.
“We will enhance and strengthen further such relationships with our continued people to people exchange, mutual cooperation and collaboration and our continued visits, Fujian to Cebu, courtesy of Xiamen Airlines,” Garcia said.
“China and the Philippines are good neighbors linked by the sea and good partners weathering wind and woe together, the development of our two countries is rooted in a surrounding environment featuring good neighborliness and friendship. It is rooted in a big Asian family of win-win cooperation,” Long said.
Under the agreement, Cebu and Fujian will deepen practical cooperation particularly in the agriculture sector and expand multiple export channels for high-quality agricultural products from both provinces.
Both provinces will also continue to strengthen infrastructure cooperation, while developing each other’s enterprises undertaking relevant projects, and protect their lawful rights and interests.
Both will also enjoin in the sharing of best practices and experiences in the protection and development of world heritage sites, tourism promotion, and scenic spot management.
In history, the Silk Road was a network of ancient trade routes that connected the East and West, Asia and Europe, fostering cultural exchange and economic growth for centuries.
Long said that trading and economic cooperation with his province and the Philippines is crucial, as it is the largest export destination and second largest source of foreign investment in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
“It is one of the most important partners of Fujian province. Despite the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, last year the trade volume between Fujian and the Philippines stood at 84.5 billion Chinese yuan, up by 11.7 percent,” Long added.
The foreign official also noted the importance of Cebu as an regional economic hub in terms of economy, culture, and tourism industry potential in the Visayas region and in the Philippines.
As a mark of their cooperation, Long has donated pre-fabricated houses to Cebu Province that will benefit Cebuanos that were victims of natural calamities particularly after the Typhoon Odette in December 2021.
In 2018, then Cebu Gov. and now Vice Gov. Hilario Davide III and Fujian Gov. Tang Dengjie first signed the sisterhood agreement, seeking to enhance mutual understanding and friendship between the Filipinos and the Chinese through the cooperation of both provinces.
It was to promote people-to-people friendly contacts and economic and trade flow between the two provinces, and carry out exchanges and cooperation in the fields of economy, trade, science and technology, culture, sports, health, education, personnel, tourism, environment, agriculture and fisheries, and disaster risk reduction.
In 2016, a direct flight from Cebu to Fujian via the Xiamen City’s International Airport was established, connecting two provinces.