TRYING to double tourism revenues while avoiding the mass-market route may be a good plan but the government should heavily invest on infrastructure and have a clear tourism brand, industry players in Cebu said.

“It is a good plan but it will take a lot of infrastructure and development of world-class tourism facilities,” said Cebu Business Club president Dondi Joseph.

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“I have personally always been for the high-spend tourism market but we must also be realistic and mine the mass-market opportunities while we shift to the higher end of market,” he told Sun.Star Cebu.

Six years, he added, may not be enough time for a complete transition.

Tourism Secretary Alberto Lim earlier said the department is aiming to double tourism revenues while avoiding the mass-market route taken by some of the country’s Southeast Asian neighbors.

Lim said he would rather go for quality tourism and just make up in revenues for the lack of tourist numbers.

Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry tourism chairperson Dr. Mila Espina, however, said the plan to double tourism revenues “may take some time.”

“There are so many concerns that need to be addressed in the tourism sector. One is having a creative package that will meet the standards of the target market,” Espina said.

She also suggested that Lim visit the different regions to see the potential of some areas outside Luzon.

Accessibility

“Cebu, in particular, has a lot of areas that are yet to be developed. We are pushing for countryside tourism, but the lack of infrastructure for the accessibility of areas like Camotes and Bantayan Islands is still our concern,” she said.

Jay Aldeguer of Islands Souvenirs also said opening more direct flights to the country and to Cebu, as well as extensive

promotion and improved product offerings, should be priorities of the tourism sector.

“We have to have a clear branding for the country. Are we an adventure country, an eco-tourism destination? This is important for us to be able to tap the market that we really want,” he said.

He added that though the aim of doubling tourism revenues in six years is quite “ambitious,” it is doable but only if concerns will be correctly addressed.

Lim said the Philippines, with more than 7,000 islands, has an annual tourism revenue of about US$2.5 billion.