From social media to business matching, Cebu’s tourism stakeholders were urged to partner with their neighbors in Central Visayas and Mindanao to promote their areas to domestic and foreign visitors.
During last week’s business matching session at Puerto Princesa City, Mayor Edward Hagedorn called on Cebu and Bohol tour operators to partner with them in marketing their destinations, with emphasis on their eco-tourism sites.
And in last Saturday’s Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) Congress also in Puerto Princesa, Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Paz Radaza called on the city’s youth to promote Olango Island as an eco-tourism site through their Facebook, Twitter and blog accounts.
With construction of an international airport underway and more hotels being built, Hagedorn said they are slowly following Cebu as a model for tourism development.
“Hopefully we could keep up with the arrival of tourists in the next two to three years . In two years time we can have an international airport already. We are slowly following Cebu. Hopefully we can catch up with you,” Hagedorn said.
Hagedorn said they are promoting Puerto Princesa as a “city in the forest” and they hope to expand their promotions to Cebu and Bohol, which are established tourism destinations.
Puerto Princesa, a known eco-tourism destination, has among its many tourist attractions the underground river which has been recently included in the seven natural wonders of the world.
The five-day business matching and familiarization trip in Puerto Princesa City hosted by the Department of Tourism (DOT) was joined by 23 tour operators in Cebu and Bohol provinces.
Tour participants were treated to a visit to the limestone karst mountain landscape lining the 8.2 km long Puerto Princesa Underground River, which ranked second to South Africa’s Table Mountain in the seven wonders of the world.
The tour was aimed at finding ways to sell Central Visayas and Puerto Princesa tourist destinations to the Filipinos and the rest of the world by building and enhancing partnerships among Cebu, Bohol and Puerto Princesa stakeholders.
“We have been selling Palawan for the past years, we hope they do the same for us,” Cebu Association of Tour Operators (CATO) president Cecille Sa-a told Cebu Daily News after the familiarization trip and business matching in Palawan.
“The familiarization tour is very important because we get to talk about the place beyond what is obviously stated in the brochures,” William Oljol of Explore Cebu Tours and Travel added.
Cebu will return the favor when it invites Puerto Princesa and Bohol tour operators to a business matching and familiarization tour sometime in September, Sa-a said.
For Bohol tour operators, the business matching meant giving them the opportunity to promote their province to the world, said Bohol Federation of Travel and Tour Operators (BFTTO) president Nonet Madriñan-Bolo.
Later Mayor Radaza called on the city’s youth to use social media to promote Olango Island as the new tourism frontier.
She said while Lapu-Lapu City’s mainland has the facilities, infrastructure and the five-star service demanded by tourists, they need to develop new attractions to stay ahead of the highly competitive tourism market.
“My administration is developing Olango Island as the new tourism frontier,” said Radaza of Olango Island which is located along the east coast of Mactan.
She said the city will promote Olango Island as an example of community-based eco-tourism.
One of their attractions is a home stay program for tourists which would allow them to be immersed in Olango Island’s attractions, its history and heritage and its people’s hospitality, Radaza said.
Other attractions include the bird watching in Olango Bird Sanctuary, snorkeling at the Talima Marine Sanctuary and kayaking in the waters of San Vicente and Pangan-an Island, the mayor added.
“As young leaders, you are not called digital natives for nothing. You fully understand how the social media works. You live and breathe Facebook, Twitter. Tap social media to help promote Olango Island, Radaza told the SK officials.
Radaza told the SK delegates that the Lapu-Lapu City government is committed to promote eco-tourism in Olango and Mactan Islands as a means to achieve sustainable development. /Jessa Marie Agua and Norman V. Mendoza, Correspondents