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Freeman Cebu Business

Economist to entrepreneurs: ‘Boost islands with tourism investments’

Ehda Dagooc - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines – Local entrepreneurs are encouraged to put their investments on tourism-related facilities on the islands within the region particularly Camotes, Malapascua and Siquijor.

Economist Bernardo Villegas of the University of Asia & the Pacific (UA&P) made this suggestion noting that the tourism potential of Central Visayas in general has not been maximized due to under-developed destinations.

These places, according to Villegas are supposed to be the region's tourism icons, but growth in tourism is pulled down due to immature tourism support infrastructure.

Central Visayas could even surpass the growth achieved by Singapore and Hong Kong.

The region, he said has nearly eight million population, larger than Singapore and Hong Kong, but its growth momentum is lagging far behind these small territories.

Central Visayas is capable of achieving exponential organic growth capitalizing on tourism. But, proper infrastructure that supports this potential should be put in place first.

"Siquijor, Camotes, and Malapascua are jewels, and beautiful resources for tourism.

What are you waiting for?" Villegas told Cebuano businessmen during the recent Business Summit hosted by the Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI).

Aside from encouraging the capitalists to invest in these islands, the local government units (LGUs) executives are also called to be more pro-active in developing their resources, making their places friendly and inviting to investors.

He emphasized the critical role of LGUs in pushing economic growth within their respective localities, as resources are already given, what it needs is a little "lift of a finger."

High rate of poverty is still evident in these islands, if tourism development were to be given priority, economic growth will not only be concentrated in the urban centers like Cebu, but wealth generation will be spread across the region.

Amid these potentialities in tourism, Villegas warned the rampant corruption in the lower level of governance, saying LGUs should minimize the red tape and bureaucracy that obviously keeping investors away.

"Let’s not kid ourselves, corruption is still widespread in the  lower levels of the government," Villegas said.

Earlier, Cebu Association of Travel Operators (CATO) past president Alice Queblatin reiterated the tourism stakeholders' call to concerned government agencies to immediately respond to the market's growth pathway, if it were to make tourism as one of the country's wealth producing industries.

She said both local and foreign tourists now are demanding to explore the different islands and islets in the country. In Cebu for instance, island destinations like Bantayan Island, Camotes, Malapascua, as well as those in neighboring provinces in Bohol, Negros oriental and Siquijor are suffering from lack of sea-based transportation access, including diverse accommodation choices.

ALICE QUEBLATIN

BANTAYAN ISLAND

BUSINESS SUMMIT

CAMOTES

CEBU ASSOCIATION OF TRAVEL OPERATORS

CENTRAL VISAYAS

ECONOMIST BERNARDO VILLEGAS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF ASIA

GROWTH

SINGAPORE AND HONG KONG

TOURISM

VILLEGAS

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