Published on : Friday, January 5, 2018
The tourism sector in Cebu and the surrounding areas performed well last year in spite of suffering from major terror attacks in Bohol in April and the 5-month Marawi siege in May. The region’s tourism industry remained strong despite these negative events.
According to Efren Carreon, National Economic Development Authority in Central Visayas (Neda-7) director, “The incidents did not affect the performance of the region’s tourism industry as tourists, especially from Asian countries continued to travel to the region despite negative travel advisories issued by some countries.” He cited the 11.2 percent increase in foreign visitor arrivals in the region.
This year, the Neda-7 chief is hopeful about the sector’s growth especially with the two major infrastructure projects in the region to be completed by the middle of this year — the Mactan Cebu International Airport Terminal 2 project and the Panglao Airport in Bohol province.
Edilberto Mendoza, the past president of the Cebu Association of Tour Operations Specialists (Catos), said that he always had high hopes for Cebu’s tourism industry. He said that he looks forward to the opening of the second passenger terminal at MCIA this year and expects more flights coming in as well as new players in the airline industry.
“Our tourism industry skills program is also focused on training the grassroots level in handling tourists, which is also the aim of the administration of President Duterte as part of the Asean integration,” Mendoza said.
Mendoza added that the stakeholders can expect a more vibrant tourism sector in Cebu throughout the coming year.
Despite the industry’s strong economic performance last year, the attacks in Bohol and the siege of Marawi did affect the sector but not as widely as it was expected to be. Central Visayas saw fewer tourists during the first half of 2017 compared to the same period in 2016.
Carlo Anton Suarez, Hotels, Resorts, and Restaurants Association of Cebu (HRRAC) president, said that 2017 was prospective for the hospitality sector. Hotels in the city averaged at least 75 percent in occupancy while resorts on Mactan Island fared better at 80 percent. With the opening of the new international passenger terminal building at the Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA) by June next year, more tourists are expected to come to Cebu; hence, more hotel rooms need to be made available.
Cebu is also poised to occupy a bright spot in 2018 as more international players enter the hospitality market, including Sheraton, Marriott, Dusit, and Ascott among others.