Cebu’s tourism sector targets European market

November 3, 2012 10:23 am 

CEBU CITY, Nov. 2 — Cebu’s tourism stakeholders hope to entice European tourists to visit the province and get a slice of the tourism revenue they bring.

But Cebu tourism players noted challenges facing these markets, such as the common carriers tax, the Category 2 standing of Philippine airports and poor infrastructure.

Former tourism undersecretary and Cebu City tourism officer Phineas Alburo noted that Philippine carriers cannot offer flights to Europe or add more flights to the United States because of its Category 2 rating.

Foreign carriers also lamented the high common carriers tax and infrastructure problems like the few working air bridges and defective air conditioning at some airport terminals.

Cathay Pacific Cebu manager Grace Ho said these may seem like small issues, but these affect a tourist’s overall impression of a place.

She suggested that something be done to change the impression that things don’t work well in the Philippines to build a more positive image of the country.

Even with these challenges, Jenny Franco of the National Association of Independent Travel Agencies (Naitas) said the European and US tourist market should not be ignored.

She said that while it is easy to promote Cebu to neighboring countries in Asia, most of the tourists from these countries stay just three to four nights.

She said focusing on American and European tourists will earn for Cebu tourists who stay for as long as four to six weeks.

Cebu Business Club president Gordon Alan Joseph said marketing efforts should continue, pointing out that even if economies in these parts are struggling, they are still a big tourism market.

These discussions were made during a recently held launching and consultation of the Cebu strategic tourism development plan.

The plan entails at least five strategies, namely, product development, infrastructure development, marketing and promotions, outreach and public involvement.

Economist Fernando Fajardo, who presented the plan, said the product development would be to build on Cebu’s rich historical heritage and natural attractions while looking for new products and new local destinations. “Otherwise, we will be bored.”

To develop the product, the plan states the need to preserve, protect and enhance the natural and historical assets as the basic foundation of tourism development and expand and develop new local destination areas that have the greatest market potential.

The plan wants to develop infrastructure that are “world-class, convenient, easy and safe” for locals and visitors alike.

It also includes a plan to widen Cebu’s market by going beyond the traditional South Korean and Japanese to other markets like China, India and western developed economics to focus on long-staying visitors, which will gain greater economic impact. (PNA)

PDS/EB/GB

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