Cebu’s great tourism growth for 2018
SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Valeriano Avila (The Freeman) - February 26, 2019 - 12:00am

During last Friday’s The FREEMAN party, I was seated with Department of Tourism-7 Regional Director Shalimar Hofer Tamano and he gave me very wonderful information about the performance of the Tourism sector in 2018. So after talking to me about this positive news, I asked him to email me this report and that’s exactly what he did. So allow me to give you the highlights of the DOT report.

With the opening of Terminal 2 last June, MCIA experienced 10 new international inaugural flights. Eight of these flights were from China, including a direct flight to Macau from Mactan, and Taipei. The inauguration of the Panglao International Airport last November 27 also added to this positive news on Tourism. By the end of January 2019, Cebu now has 590 international flights per week and 1,496 domestic flights per week. This was a 24.5% increase in international flights. This growth was also felt in the maritime industry with an additional frequency of trips to ports of call like Getafe, Talibon, Poro, and Larena

The big news that Tamano gave me was that for 2018, Central Visayas had 8,099,346 tourist arrivals. This is broken down to foreign tourists arrivals where Cebu got a total of 2,805,115, Bohol had 646,082, Negros Oriental got 116,310, while Siquijor got 66,788, for a total of 3,643,295 foreign tourists arrivals. For domestic tourist arrivals, Cebu got 2,770,781, Bohol 850,047, Negros Oriental 766,985, Siquijor 77,238, for a total of 4,465,501 which gives us a grand total of 8,099,346 tourist arrivals for 2018. Compare this figure to last year’s tourism arrivals which was 6,974,674, we had an increase of 1,124,672 arrivals.

The top tourist destinations are Cebu City with 2,559,742, Lapu-Lapu City follows with 1,716,938, Panglao with 863,372, Dumaguete City with 706,689, Tagbilaran City with 391,657, then Mandaue City with 205,795. I won’t mention the rest anymore, but all told, Central Visayas earned P44.2 billion in tourism receipts. Now this is the performance of Central Visayas for 2018. It would be interesting to note what 2019 would bring us. Compare these figures to the national DOT figures.

I got this piece from Rappler, the supposedly anti-Duterte publication, which revealed: “In a statement, the DOT said tourist arrivals from January to June this year rose by 10.4%, compared to the 3.3 million recorded in the same period in 2017… “The DOT's continuous marketing promotions, aggressive actions to create new air routes and develop new tourism products, travel facilitation, and confidence in tourism investments drummed up the industry and resulted [in] this stellar performance," Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat said.

“For the month of June, 528,747 tourists arrived in the Philippines, an 11.35% increase from the same month last year. Despite the closure of world-famous destination Boracay, tourism officials are confident that the year-end target of 7.5 million will be achieved. “We are actually on track. We are halfway into the year and we are exactly halfway of our National Tourism Development Plan target arrivals,” Puyat said.”

So if the DOT expects a target of 7.5 million tourist arrivals, where does our 8,099,346 million tourists put us?

One thing that Tamano admitted was that the 2.5 million tourism arrivals for Cebu City alone also helped worsen our traffic congestion because these tourists had to go to their hotels in Cebu City after arriving in MCIA. This gives us an idea of what we ought to do to help ease our traffic congestion.

In Lapu-Lapu City, for instance, these local government officials ought to start widening the Punta Engaño road from Movenpick Hotel all the way to the end of this promontory. Punta Engaño will soon have the Sheraton Hotel and the Resort Hotel and Casino of Dennis Uy. But before they operate, that road should be widened. Cordova officials should be wary that the Cebu Cordova Express Bridge is expected to finish within three years from today, so if Cordova wants real economic growth, it must start with the widening of their main thoroughfares now…before it is too late.

I’ve given you the report of how excellent we have performed as far as our tourism growth is concerned. But we shouldn’t be the victims of our own success so our work is cut out for us to see things in a better light than what we have today.

* * *

For email responses to this article, write to vsbobita@gmail.com. His columns can be accessed through www.philstar.com.

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