Industry stakeholders in Cebu are encouraged to start working on complementary infrastructure to maximize the province’s tourism potential, specifically that the new airport is putting Cebu on the spotlight.
Henry Schumacher, executive vice president for European Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines (ECCP) said that Cebu more than ever, is in a "brilliant" position exploit its strong tourism opportunities, however it has to fix some "uninviting" issues such as the high accommodation rates, traffic, poor sea ports, and unavailability of docking area for cruise ships.
According to Schumacher, the recent development of the Mactan International Airport is a big plus for Cebu, but it has to be followed up by more developments, to make Cebu a truly world-class destination.
The Philippines, he said has the second highest accommodation rates in Asia, next to Singapore. This issue too, is very crucial for the full development for tourism in the country in general.
Cebu in fact is gaining interest from ageing Europeans. Thus, there is an immediate need for Cebu to level-up in terms of providing good transportation gateways, including good road connection for land-based travel.
In a separate interview with Cebu Association of Travel Operators (CATO) past president Alice Queblatin, she said the country should make serious effort in fixing port terminals first, and establish good sea-based transportation infrastructure to promote thousands of enchanting islands in the country.
Queblatin reiterated the private sector’s call to concerned government agencies to immediately respond to the market’s growth pathway, if it were to make tourism as one of the country’s wealth producing industries.
She said both local and foreign tourists now are demanding to explore the different islands and islets in the country.
In Cebu for instance, island destinations like Bantayan Island, Camotes, Malapascua, as well as in neighboring provinces if Bohol, Negros Oriental and Siquijor are suffering from lack of sea-based transportation access.
According to Queblatin, before the country could invite the big international cruises, it has to fix first the support infrastructure like good port terminals, and availability of reliable sea-based transportation that could bring tourists to different island and islets that are worth promoting for.
"We don’t see concrete plans to build [or improve] better ferries and passenger terminals. We want better connectivity by sea," Queblatin emphasized adding the while the country is already on the right move to build better airports, sea-based transportation infrastructure should also be given equal attention, considering that not all attractive destinations are accessible by air.
Queblatin said the Philippines is no doubt an attractive country for cruise liners, however, the kind of passenger sea-ports the country has are still not ready to accommodate this kind of service, unless facilities will be fixed to global standards.