The ups and downs of tourism development

SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Bobit S. Avila - The Freeman

For our Christmas Presentation on our talk show “Straight from the Sky,” we go to the SM Seaside City to see for ourselves Cebu City’s latest addition to Cebu’s tourism development, which I call Mr. Henry Sy’s Christmas gift to Cebuanos because this shopping mall isn’t just an ordinary shopping mall, it is so big, it really is a city on the seaside of the South Road Properties..

With us is Ms. Marissa Fernan, vice president of SM Prime Holdings, Inc. and Mr. Edgar Tejerero, president of SM’s Lifestyle Entertainment, Inc., the company that handles SM’s 300 plus theaters nationwide. Call it a coincidence that Mr. Tejerero was in SM Seaside to inaugurate their new wide screen format, which showed the revival of that hit series Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The projector for this new moviehouse is a Christie’s projector that no longer uses a bulb, but lasers. This technology is so new, Mr. Tejerero told me, that this is the first time this has been installed in Southeast Asia and it’s in Cebu!

Mr. Tejerero also handles the operation of SM’s skating rinks and the concerts shown in the fabulous ARENA in the Mall of Asia, which Mr. Tejerero intimated to me that construction for Cebu’s ARENA will start early in the Year 2016. SM will also put SMX into this complex in SM Seaside City thus, making Cebu equal to Manila when it comes to world-class concerts and exhibits. Incidentally the skating rink will also host an Ice Hockey Team, as there are already six hockey teams in Manila. Who knows? Someday, we might just have a Cebuano vying for gold in the Winter Olympics! This is just for starters!

But more than anything… SM Seaside City’s entry into the shopping mall business did not just add another shopping mall in Cebu City but rather, they brought in and in one huge dramatic turn, forced Cebu’s antiquated mass transportation system to accept the My Bus, where today they now have 19 buses in operation. Initially the entry of modern air-conditioned buses was the object of protest by those people who are in the transport industry business. But eventually they all realized that if they do not modernize, they would eventually lose. In the end, they also decided to operate their own buses.

If Mr. & Mrs. Henry Sy is so blessed with a successful business model, it is because they are devout Catholics who honor God first before everything else. Before the first nail of the SM Seaside City was hammered, the Sy family ordered the construction of the San Pedro Calungsod Chapel. As Ms. Marissa Fernan told me, Mrs. Sy has built many chapels and churches from all over the country. Indeed our Lord Jesus Christ told his disciples, “Seek ye first the kingdom of heaven and all these things shall be added unto you.”

So  watch our Christmas presentation of the SM Seaside City, Mr. Henry Sy’s Christmas present to Cebuanos and our tourism development for this Christmas on SkyCable’s channel 61 at 8:00 p.m. and on Wednesday and Saturday. We also have replays on MyTV Channel 30 at 9:00 tonight and at 7:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. on Wednesday and Friday.

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I was in Plantation Bay for the weekend to interview Mr. Manny Gonzales for my Sinulog Presentation on my TV talkshow on Straight from the Sky and I read the article by Ms. Ehda Dagooc in The Freeman entitled “Erratic momentum takes Cebu Tourism on a roller-coaster ride.” In that article she quoted Ms. Julie Najar, president of the Hotel, Resorts and Restaurants Association of Cebu who talked about the erratic momentum of the Year 2015. Indeed we have the ups and downs of tourism!

This article is quite timely because this is exactly what Mr. Manny Gonzales and I talked about during my TV interview with him… about the Department of Tourism’s Star Ratings Program, which Mr. Gonzales formally objected to in writing in the Year 2012 before the DOT embarked on this program. But the DOT went on a damn-the-torpedoes attitude and in the end, downgraded Plantation Bay from its 5-Star rating down to 4-Star.

This triggered an investigation by the Congressional Committee on Tourism two weeks ago, chaired by Rep. Rene Relampagos and with Rep. Raul del Mar and Rep. Gwen F. Garcia (they do not belong to the same party) they caused the suspension of the DOT’s Star Rating Program and with the 16th Congress barely having three-weeks of sessions left before the election campaign recess… then this program is permanently frozen.

Incidentally, Plantation Bay celebrates its 20th Year this July and the corrupt bureaucrats of the DOT couldn’t see that Plantation Bay is the only facility in this country that does not allow tipping of its staff. This is a practice found only in Japan. Manny Gonzales also told me that when he purchased the 12-hectare property for the resort, it only had three trees. Now you can see a mini-forest surrounding the resort… this is why despite what the DOT bureaucrats could not see, Plantation Bay will always be a 5-Star hotel in our hearts. Best of all, it is wholly and proudly owned by a Cebuano!

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For email responses to this article, write to [email protected] or [email protected]. His columns can be accessed through www.philstar.com.



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