Cebu joins East Asia tourism partners in joint declarationCebu Daily News
Tourism is more than just flying in the biggest volume of visitors from different countries.
Doing business in a way that protects the “ecology,” promotes “fair tourism” and reduces the impact of natural and man-made crises will ensure a “sustainable” industry according to a joint declaration of 12 East Asian countries, which ended its conference in Cebu province yesterday.
The 12 representatives of the East Asia Inter-Regional Tourism Forum (Eatof) signed an agreement pledging to strengthen tourism ties for their provinces.
They agreed, among others, to:
- work for “no visa” policies and fast-track visa checks to ease the inconvenience of travel;
-study the feasibility of charter flights and travel routes;
-make a joint effort to reduce potential crisis in the early stages and share information in pandemics, natural disasters, political instability and hard economic times.
Nine Eatof members, including Cebu province, are part of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), which has a no-visa policy in the region.
Korea, China, Japan said they would have to lobby for easier immigration procedures to their countries, to encourage travel to their countries where visas are required.
Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia said that “open accessibility would allow more exchange between provinces.”
She presided over the Eatof Governor’s Conference last night since Cebu is this year’s host.
Under the Joint Declaration, Eatof will also implement resolutions adopted by the group to “promote … programs in ecology and entrepreneurship of its members” through information sharing and joining environment industry-related events.
Governor Garcia said climate change, with the effects of flooding and unpredictable weather changes, affects tourism.
Cebu’s status as the most popular destination in the Philippines with 1.6 million visitors a year relies on its appeal as an island with beaches and tropical climate that favors swimming, diving and resort living.
Cebu hosted the Eatof conference at the Cebu International Convention Center (CICC) in Mandaue City.
Delegates from Gangwon in Korea, Jilin in China, Laos, Vietnam, Sarawak in Malaysia, Cambodia, Japan, Mongolia and Indonesia yesterday signed the Joint Declaration.
The focus on “fair tourism” was suggested by Moonsoon Choi, governor of Gangwoon province in Korea, during the Governor’s Conference.
Choi said “fair tourism” would empower local residents by giving them tourism education and letting them lead tourism activities in the community.
He cited the strong ties of South Korea and Cebu, with many Koreans coming to Cebu to study English and enjoy the sights.
The concept of “fair tourism” involves looking at tourism a tool for developing people and communities, and not just as a profitable business.
Like “fair trade,” it involves caring for the long-term benefits for people, natural environments and economies in the areas in which it takes place. Adopting practices like fair wages and working conditions, ethical business deals, respect for human rights, culture and the environment are considered factors that ensure a sustainable industry.
In the joint declaration of Eatof, Cebu joined the 12-member group to pledge to “cooperate to establish a Fair Tourism environment in the Eatof region.”
They agreed to host seminars and campaigns to improve the industry, “eliminate unfair transactional practice between companies such as unfair pricing policies and hard-selling campaigns.”
YB Datuk Haji Talib Zulpilip, assistant minister of Tourism and Heritage Sarawak, Malaysia, praised Cebu as a destination.
“Cebu is suitable for tourism. The people are so friendly and we also share a similar heritage,” he said.
He said interconnecting flights among provinces in Eatof is needed to connect tourism and business interests.
Direct charter flights, travel and tourism “clusters,” “tourism swaps” and programs for home-stay and farm-stay packages were discussed in the conference.
Garcia said that the “One Cebu” town festivals in the province could give Eatof members cultural insights while Cebu officials could learn about festivals in other regions.
The next Eatof general assembly will be held in Siem Reap province in Cambodia in November 2012. /Reporter Candeze Mongaya