‘Best asset for tourism is the people, not infra’
To achieve the goal of 10 million foreign tourists and 3.5 million domestic travellers by 2016, many industry factors have to be addressed in the Philippines, said Hans Hauri, general manager of Marco Polo Plaza.
These include infrastructure, speedy granting visitor visas, and better airport facilities, said Hauri, president of the Hotel, Resort and Restaurant Association of Cebu (HRRAC) during the 6th anniversary of the 888 News Forum yesterday.
But lack of infrastructure alone can’t be an excuse for drawing less tourist traffic than neighbors in Asia and other leading destinations in the world, he said.
He cited the case of Bali, Indonesia where 20 million tourists visit every year despite poor infrastructure as seen in airport terminals where there are long lines of people.
Hauri said tourism is all about a balanced play of several inputs such as additional direct flights to channel more traffic, infrastructure and most of all , the people.
“The key assets are the people who have smiling faces even after long hours at work,” said Hauri.
Hauri received a special award for his contribution to Cebu tourism and his steadfast support for the 888 News Forum which Marco Polo Plaza hosts every Tuesday.
Hauri, in his speech, assured that HRRAC remained confident of Cebu especially with ongoing work on a new passenger terminal for the Mactan-Cebu International Airport terminal.
Patria Aurora Roa, former regional director of the Department of Tourism in Central Visayas (DOT-7), agreed that Cebu would always excel as a travel destination.
She cited as an example Cebu’s successful hosting of the Cobra Ironman 70.3 last Aug. 5, put Cebu in the global map for sports tourism.
“Again we proved that we are capable. And soon we will be seeing many of these events coming to Cebu,” said Roa.
Another reason for Roa’s optimism is the production of a DVD for tour guiding, a collaboration of Roa and Robert Lim Joseph, chairman emeritus of the National Association of independent Travel Agencies (NAITAS) in the Philippines.
Roa, who will head the project, said she met with members of the Cebu Association of Tour Guides (CATG) last month, told them to improve their existing scripts and present them to her this month.
“I plan to meet with them formally within the month and decide how we will move forward,” said Roa.
The project has the support of Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez and will be implemented first in Cebu.
Joseph said the DVD would be produced using a master script in English which would then be translated to different languages like Korean, Japanese, and Chinese.
“Initially we will have P500,000 from Bobby (Joseph). If this will not be enough then we will find ways to get more funding to complete the project,” said Roa.
She said the project was an example of the aggressiveness of Cebuanos in growing the tourism industry.
“Cebuanos have a way of making things happen and not waiting for others in the capital. This will make Cebu succeed,” said Hauri.
Hauri then urged all tourism stakeholders in Cebu to come together and move forward.
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