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Cebu News

Cebu industry titans joining: The Freeman holds forum on tourism today

Ehda M. Dagooc - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines — Key players in Cebu’s tourism sector will convene today at Bai Hotel, Mandaue City for the first “Business Forum” entitled “Trends that Shape Cebu’s Tourism Landscape,” organized by PhilStar Group and led by The Freeman.

Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia will join the event as the keynote speaker.

Scheduled to commence at 1 p.m. and conclude at 5 p.m., this half-day gathering will explore the promising tourism prospects and trends poised to elevate Cebu’s position with the multi-billion-peso tourism industry.

The event marks the commencement of an industry-centric series of business gatherings, forming part of The Freeman’s special projects in anticipation of its 105th Founding Anniversary in July.

The forum will introduce emerging trends in Cebu’s tourism industry, including eco-tourism, digital nomadism, and education tourism. It will feature ideas and perspectives from young and budding tourism stakeholders who are now beginning to make their marks in tourism-related businesses.

In particular, Tuburan, Cebu Mayor Democrito “Aljun” M. Diamante will present his town’s initiatives and programs on “community-based tourism in Cebu,” to show that local communities can be empowered to harness the potential of tourism.

Tuburan, a progressive town in the midwest of Cebu, has gained recognition for its flourishing coffee farming industry. Leveraging this advantage, the town has enhanced its tourism appeal, resulting in tangible benefits for its residents through increased employment opportunities and thriving businesses.

Samantha Manigsaca of the AppleOne Group, on the other hand, will further elaborate on the promising investment opportunities in Cebu’s hospitality sector, highlighting the emerging trends that are shaping the hospitality and real estate sectors.

She would discuss AppleOne’s extensive experience as developer of several hotels and resorts, notably including the renowned Sheraton Cebu Mactan Resort and the upcoming JW Marriott Panglao Island Resort & Spa.

Hotels, Resorts, and Restaurant Association of Cebu (HRRAC) president Alfred Reyes, who is one of the event’s panelists, said he sees 2024 as a more promising year for tourism.

He anchored his optimism on the active support of the Department of Tourism (DOT) in promoting the Philippines globally.

In 2023, the hospitality sector in Cebu witnessed a significant upturn in occupancy rates, averaging between 60 percent and 70 percent, which is a marked improvement compared to the rates observed from 2020 to 2022.

Reyes attributed this encouraging performance to the resurgence of foreign tourist arrival, particularly from South Korea, a thriving domestic market, and the revival of the MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions) sector, encompassing corporate events and various other engagements.

“Our trend is going up. We are hopeful that 2024 is far better than 2023 in terms of tourist arrivals and hotel occupancy,” he said.

Educator and businesswoman Sunshine B. Lim, president and executive director of Sto. Niño Mactan College and Sto. Niño Mactan Montessori School, will likewise address the transformative power of “Education Tourism.” This promising sector is increasingly recognized as a significant driver of tourism growth in Cebu, complementing traditional attractions such as beaches and heritage sites.

The rise of global digital nomads choosing the Philippines as their preferred destination is also contributing to another revenue stream for Cebu’s tourism sector. To further bolster this development, Maria Asuncion A. Canen from Converge ICT Solutions Inc. will discuss the company’s commitment to “Enhancing Tourism Experience” and its crucial role in providing reliable internet connectivity.

According to a report released by ESG and Circular Economy of Gobi Partners, Cebu tops the list of potential cities to host digital nomads from around the world.

A digital nomad is an individual who travels and can work from almost anywhere in the world without being tied to a specific location. They can work from coffee shops, co-working spaces, or even from the beach. They inject money into local economies by spending on food, transportation, accommodation, and other services.

The DOT has set its target international visitor arrivals in 2024 at 7.7 million. This is almost double the 2023 target of 4.8 million foreign visitors.

Before the pandemic, the Philippines recorded P482.15 billion ($8.66 billion) in international tourism earnings in 2019.

As a key economic driver in the Philippines, tourism contributed 6.2 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product in 2022, with at least 2.65 million inbound foreign visitors.

Aside from Reyes, panel reactors to further stimulate the discussions and inject insights into each designated topic include Colliers Philippines research director Joey Roi Bondoc; Baltazar S. Tribunalo Jr. of Diamante Group of Companies; Atty. Joseph Milan Baduel, vice president of Gullas School of Medicine; Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Jay Yuvallos.

Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Mark Anthony Ynoc; Island Souvenirs Inc. marketing head Andrea Alessandra V. Aldeguer; Sugbo.ph and content creator Hannah Abelgas; Duros Land Properties Inc. head for sales Allan Benito R. Ballesteros; Duros Hotels Inc. managing director Adie G. Gallares; and Primary Homes’ head of sales and operations management Francis E. L. Icamen.

PhilStar Group president and chief executive officer Miguel G. Belmonte will also join the event today, alongside executives from sister publications such as Philippine Star and BusinessWorld.

Established in 1919, The Freeman is the country’s longest-running regional newspaper and is part of the growing PhilStar Group of Companies. —  RHM (CEBU NEWS)

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