A Swiss couple also responded to the query made by my friend Paul from among his guests and friends from Europe about what they like or what they want to see in places they would like to visit like Cebu. Paul says that this one is of particular interest because the Swiss couple, both in their 60s and frequent travelers, was never in Cebu or anywhere else in the Philippines, for that matter. Therefore, their decision to come to Cebu would be the result of an attractive promotion. Here is what they said.
“After having discussed the subject with Vreni (his wife), I can give you the following feedback on your queries:
“Certainly, there are several criteria which contribute substantially to a positive decision on a destination like Cebu:
“One, we have noticed that a promotional offer should not be segmented too much into certain age groups. Oldies like to surf and trek as well as the younger ones, and younger ones are interested in local cultural heritage as well as oldies.
“Two, regarding outdoor activities, there are various emphases, such as trekking, biking, kite-surfing, hiking etc, according to one’s preferences. Therefore, the ideal destination should offer a good variety of choices.
“Three, car rental at competitive rates is essential for exploring the island and its treasures.
“Four, the standard of accommodation must be good or very good (by European expectations).
“Five, there should be good beaches, inlets and coves, which offer some shadow and are not overcrowded.
“Six, the quality of the seawater should be good or very good for water sports and diving.
“Seven, the quality of food should be good or very good. There is no need for the common lunch and dinner buffets. A la carte is preferable. Breakfast buffets, however, are okay.
“Eight, resort areas should be peaceful and quiet for relaxation. Those who want some razzmatazz should find this in the city.
“Nine, exciting excursions, guided by well-trained locals, should be offered by land and by sea, possibly combined with some events in order to get in touch with local culture and history.”
To these nine points, Paul then gave the following comments:
“To one: I agree with what they say. Just properly promote what Cebu has to offer and let it be up to the vacationers to choose.
“To two: No problem in Cebu. The important aspect here is that excursions are professionally guided, and the necessary equipment is provided (cords, harness, helmets, headlamps etc. Safety first! According to my own experiences, there remains some homework to be done. Physically demanding tours must be declared as such and properly described. The Argao Tourism Commission is doing quite well regarding this.
“To three: Mobility is a must. Many of the smaller resorts along the coast do not offer it, with the consequence that guests get stuck. Car rental, however, is a double blade. On the one hand, it provides instant mobility; on the other hand, it exposes “innocent” Europeans to local traffic, which needs getting used to, to say the least. My foreign friends usually describe it as chaos and the very opposite of what they are used to. Therefore, there is an inherent danger of traffic stress or even an accident, particularly at night.
“Alternatively, one could think of chauffeur-driven car rentals, or driver-guides, or a network of available vans that can be booked by the innkeepers on behalf of their guests. Furthermore, tourists should get proper information on how to ride our comfortable and low-cost air-conditioned buses like Ceres and Sunrise which provide efficient transportation along the coast. Riding tricycles and ‘habal-habal’ will add to the local feeling. Here I also see some necessary homework.
“To four: The standard of accommodation varies greatly in the province. Not all of them measure up to (average) European expectations. A proper mapping needs to be done.
“To five: There are plenty. The keyword here is SHADOW. No European will sit longer than 3 minutes on a sunlit beach.
“To six: Seawater quality greatly varies in Cebu from crystal-clear to… areas with clear water should be mapped.
“To seven: De gustibus non est disputandum. Well-prepared food served in clean restaurants will be appreciated. Be aware that ‘humba’ et.al is not to everyone’s taste. Lighter alternatives should also be available.
“To eight: In my experience, most resorts in Cebu are reasonably peaceful and quiet.
“To nine: According to my own experience, there is much homework to do regarding the professionalism of guides. For one, Cebu’s history and culture is multi-layered and complex. On test runs, we noticed that the guide knew next to nothing about local history and culture. Thus, we were fed trivialities and fanciful fabrications. European tourists will not appreciate that. I personally believe that a four-week crash course is not enough to obtain a guiding license.”