Cebu News

The Freeman Business Forum: Garcia highlights tourism program

Mitchelle L. Palaubsanon - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines — The Freeman’s “Business Forum 2024” yesterday was a resounding success, with Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia laying down the tourism initiatives of her administration, particularly the “Suroy-Suroy Sugbo” program.

She called the Suroy-Suroy as pivotal in “showcasing the many beautiful tourist destinations across the province” that were previously unknown and in promoting not only Cebu's tourist spots but also in uplifting local communities through livelihood generation.

“If you go to the towns and cities of the province, you will see just how there is this feeling of hope – hope of…better things to come – because we have shown that indeed through tourism, people’s lives can improve and be better," she said in her speech during the forum, which was held at Bai Hotel in Mandaue City.

“If we speak of tourism, we speak about Cebu.  We have the accessibility factor. We have international and local airports. Both airports have the most connectivity both in domestic and international flights, second to Manila,” she added.

The governor highlighted how the Suroy-Suroy Sugbo program has not only bolstered tourism but has also paved the way for economic growth.

She also cited how Suroy-Suroy Sugbo brought people, both local and foreign, to Cebu, which has a lot to offer in terms of attractions, food, culture and heritage, which are spread throughout the province and not just concentrated at the urban centers.

The governor said that by showcasing the diverse array of products and attractions Cebu has to offer, the program attracted both domestic and international attention, opening doors for investment opportunities.

The provincial government continues to stage the Suroy-Suroy Sugbo every year, as part of its commitment to furthering Cebu's tourism agenda.

Garcia said that “with its continued success, the program stands as a testament to Cebu's steadfast spirit and its dedication to harnessing the full potential of its natural and cultural treasures.”

The governor cited how Suroy-Suroy brought people, both local and foreign, to Cebu for them to discover its attractions, food, culture, and heritage spread throughout the province, not just concentrate at the urban centers.

The governor also said that the province’s various infrastructure projects have caused easier access to these tourism attractions.

Aside from the Suroy Suroy Sugbo, the governor also mentioned the Pasigarbo sa Sugbo, as well as Sugbo Kahanas, One Cebu Expo, and the R’Cebu Expo, which brought out the best among the Cebuanos.

“Ang Sugbo walay sama, dili mangopya. Kay ang Sugbo maoy sumbanan,” the governor said.


Miguel Belmonte, Philippine Star Media Group president and CEO, said in his welcome message that, indeed, the forum was held at a most opportune time, especially now that the tourism industry is looking to regain its footing and is projected to fully recover by the end of 2024.

“With the concerted efforts of our Department of Tourism under the very able leadership of Secretary Christina Frasco, together with all tourism stakeholders from government and the private sector, the country is poised to attain record arrivals and receipts this year, or at the very least reset our tourism numbers to pre-pandemic levels,” he said.

Belmonte said that Cebu is the best venue for the forum because with its innate beauty, attractions, and rich heritage, not to mention its beautiful airport, it has all the elements to become the Philippines' number one tourist destination.

He also said that with Cebu being the wealthiest province in the country, it also holds the greatest potential to attract tourism investments.

“Beyond the bright prospects, however, much still need to be done for Cebu's tourism to flourish. The needed infrastructure has to be put in place. We need to empower our local communities for the industry to thrive, and alongside this, promote tourism education to further deepen appreciation for Cebu's history and heritage,” Belmonte said.

Themed "Trends that Shape Cebu's Tourism Landscape”, the first The Freeman Business Forum was joined by key players in Cebu’s business community and tourism stakeholders, including tourism officers of the province.

The half-day forum was organized by the Philippine Star Media Group and led by The Freeman, as part of the latter’s special projects identified for its 105th Founding Anniversary in July.

 The speakers of the forum included Tuburan Mayor Aljun Diamante, founder of Tuburan Coffee and owner of Tuburan 360 and Diamante Group of Companies; Sunshine B. Lim, Sto. Niño Mactan College and Sto. Niño Mactan Montessori School college president and school executive director; Samantha H. Manigsaca, AppleOne Group asset manager for hotels; and Maria Asuncion A. Cane, Converge assistant vice president and head for Visayas-Mindanao enterprises sales.

In particular, Diamante spoke about community-based tourism and empowering local Communities; Lim on the “transformative power of education tourism,” Manigsaca on real estate investments in the hospitality sector; and Cane on the role of internet connectivity towards enhancing tourism experience. (CEBU NEWS)

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