THE Cebu Association of Tour Operators (Cato) sees a serious problem in tourist travel flow if no proper measures are put in place with the rehabilitation of the old Mactan bridge.
Admitting that this is already “beyond their control”, Cato president Edilberto Mendoza Jr. appealed to concerned government agencies to implement effective measures in easing the traffic congestion in the cities of Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu so as not to disrupt the tourism business of Cebu.
“Ang maapektuhan gyud ani ang (This will affect) travel time of our tourists,” said Mendoza. “Like for example, the concept of our Twin City Tour (Cebu City and Lapu-Lapu City), which normally takes five hours will be delayed. Your supposed five hour tour might be spent in crossing Mandaue City to Lapu-Lapu City alone.”
Mendoza, also owner of Abba Travel and Pilgrimage Services Inc., added that tourists would have a hard time catching the early departures of fastcrafts going to Bohol because of the traffic. Tourists normally catch the 6:00 am departure going to Bohol to maximize the whole-day countryside tour.
Yesterday, representatives from the private sector and government agencies met to discuss ways to solving the traffic brought about by the bridge repair.
Department of Tourism (DOT) 7 Director Rowena Montecillo said options were presented on how to ease traffic congestion such as making shipping vessels, fastcrafts, and barges available to help transport passengers and vehicles to and from Cebu City and Mactan Island.
“Fastcrafts, for example, have reached out to Marina if they could dock in Mactan wharfs to pick up passengers or tourists going to Bohol,” said Montecillo.
She reinforced Mendoza’s statement that the Bohol Countryside Tour and the Twin-City Tour that Cebu is selling will be a casualty if effective measures are not in place to facilitate seamless travel. It will also have a huge impact on the new international direct links of Cebu, which will be launched next month.
Montecillo is optimistic, however, that an effective resolution will be introduced in the coming days to address the situation. The regional tourism chief emphasized that there should be strong presence of traffic enforcers to facilitate the traffic flow and provide alternate routes.
“We need to deploy an effective measure because this is something that foreign tourists would not understand. How come there is so much traffic here? This might give us problems later on,” said Montecillo.
Mendoza urged travel operators to inform their clients of the bridge rehabilitation in Mactan.
“Personally, I asked my staff to inform our clients of the situation prior to booking them the tours that we have. So at least they’d have options to modify their itineraries,” he said.