BUSINESSMAN Michel Lhuillier’s theme park in Carmen is being groomed as the next tourism star that local and foreign tourists should watch out for in Cebu, said Patria Aurora “Dawnie” Roa, Cebu Province’s tourism consultant, said.
According to Roa, ecotourism remains a priority tourism product being pushed by Cebu Vice Gov. Agnes Magpale, who is the chair of the Province’s tourism sector. She said that while the Suroy-Suroy Sugbo project has already grown in terms of food and tourism offerings, more tourism sites will be unveiled in the coming months.
This includes the 400-hectare theme park in Carmen, which she described as an ecotourism Disneyland-like attraction in terms of size and activities.
“It is a grand tourism product,” said Roa, adding that theme park is already a “destination by itself.”
Roa said Lhuillier’s theme park will have accommodation facilities, farms, zoo, nature tripping, and other outdoor activities that promote “communion with nature.”
“This new tourism product will boost our positioning as an eco-tourism destination,” said Roa.
In terms of infrastructure development and connectivity, Roa, who is a former regional tourism chief of Central Visayas, said Cebu has improved in the past years, although much still needs to be done.
“We are progressing,” said Roa, referring to the Mactan Cebu International Airport expansion as well as sea connectivity to other tourism destinations in the province like Bantayan and Camotes.
She said that if Cebu is able to put in place the right access to these destinations, it will enjoy more domestic and international arrivals.
Earlier, Magpale pledged to develop more ecotourism destinations in Cebu, citing the rising interest on nature tours.
She said pushing for ecotourism will help the Province make sure its natural resources will be taken care of through proper development so it can withstand the pressures brought about by natural disasters.
Magpale said that the Province is conducting ecotourism management workshops among local government units through the Cebu Investment and Promotions Office (CIPO) to come up with a comprehensive ecotourism plan.
Last year, the Province released funds to Samboan for the Aguinid Falls development; Tabuelan for its river cruise project; and Badian and Alegria for their canyoneering activities.
Magpale disclosed that a Tourism Code for the Province will soon be in place. She said it has already passed the first reading and will soon be out for public hearing.
Last Friday, Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo pledged to develop the Visayas and Mindanao, saying there are still many destinations in the southern part of the country that remains underdeveloped and under-explored.
She said the Department of Tourism (DOT) will intensify its promotion of lesser known provinces, not just the top tourist destinations in the country.
Teo said she will work closely with the tourism regional chiefs and local government units in promoting these destinations. Her office will also work to provide better air connectivity to these areas.