Kasadya: Enlightening for tourism industry players
SEEN SCENE - Fidel O. Abalos (The Freeman) - January 9, 2017 - 12:00am

Amid threats on security, last Saturday and Sunday, the deafening drums have started to roll and the energizing beats have begun to tickle everyone’s foot and buttock. With its dominance, every tourist (foreign or domestic) may think that that was it, the Sinulog Mardi Gras.

Yet, that was just the “Sinulog sa Kabataan sa Lalawigan” and the “Sinulog sa Barangay”. Truly, a lot more can be expected as the week-long celebrations and competitions heighten towards this coming Sunday. 

Then, as usual, the day after, the deafening drums are muted, the energizing beats dissipated and the equally revitalized crowd degenerated. That unequivocally means that the tourist-drawing week-long Sinulog 2017 revelries shall be finally over. Such is the reality of the Sinulog festivities as far as our tourism initiatives are concern. Annually, since its inception in January, 1980, it just gives us a week of bounty. 

Nevertheless, tourism’s potential cannot be overlooked. The fact is, even if some countries in the world maybe in chaos, globally, tourism has continued to flourish. A survey published by the World Economic Forum (The Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report 2015) confirms this.  Topped by Spain, it seems that it has even continued to grow in Europe (majority of the top ten countries are in Europe) despite threats in the entire continent.  

Moreover, if we may recall, in the 2013 report, Rochelle Turner of WTTC and Zachary Sears of Oxford Economics revealed that “using proprietary data for 20 countries, including both emerging and advanced economies, they find that Travel & Tourism is one of the most important industries in terms of absolute size of employment and economic output.” 

They described “how the industry employs more than 98 million people directly, representing over 3 percent of overall global employment”. In fact, they further concluded that “when indirect and induced impacts are included, they calculate that the industry contributes to around one in every eleven jobs worldwide”.

Clearly, therefore, the T&T sector remains very significant for the world economy.  It accounts, among others, a sizeable share of global employment and has also provided an important opportunity for developing countries to improve and aim for bigger shares of the pie.  Consequently, uniquely blessed with at least 7,100 islands, we aren’t letting this opportunity pass our way unnoticed.  In fact, to both present and previous administrations’ (PNoy and GMA) credit, this is one industry the country is trying to develop to the max. As a result, the 2015 survey showed that the Philippines has continued to improve. 

Notably, after being named in 2013 as the “most improved country” in the Asia Pacific region, “ranking 16th regionally and 82nd overall”, up 12 places since the 2011 survey, we are now ranked “14th regionally and 74th overall”.  We ranked highly on account of our strengths in natural resources, price competitiveness, and a very strong—and improving—prioritization of the Travel & Tourism industry.  Moreover, our marketing and branding campaigns are also seen to be increasingly effective.

Undeniably, we’ve promoted our tourism industry to the hilt.  For one, the country’s tourism promotion is at its best.  On a sustained basis, the government promotes the country’s tourism investment potentials and places of interest for opportunity-seeking business travelers and leisure lovers, respectively.  Its hype has always been great and undoubtedly expensive. 

In Cebu, however, the question is, what are we promoting? Sinulog? Considering that a year has fifty two weeks, it simply means, a week of abundance, tourism-wise, and fifty one weeks of scarcity.  Straightforwardly, tourism industry should never work that way.

Clearly, therefore, an annual event like Sinulog is not enough. So that some countries that are solely dependent on festival-related tourism had to do other things. For sustainability reasons, these countries have organized trade expos in between their festivals to have constant influx of opportunity-seeking travelers and leisure lovers alike.

In us, there is one activity that might serve as an eye-opener, the “Kasadya sa SRP”.  Whoever gave this name must be given a reward. For one, it is so appropriate and easy to recall.  From what we’ve observed, amusement parks or carnival rides have, obviously, very strong domestic market. Having such strong domestic support, this family-oriented fun will always have a place in the tourism industry. So that, replicating such in Cebu on a more sustainable basis (with safety as top priority) could be the greatest fun of all. 

Absolutely, through initiatives like these, tourism in Cebu will be a daily affair, not a yearly event.

foabalos@yahoo.com.

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