CEBU CITY — Two Cebu City officials said the government of Camarines Sur, one of the top tourist destinations in the country, can teach Cebu how to focus on tourism promotions.
Cebu City Vice Mayor Joy Augustus Young said Gov. Luis Raymond Villafuerte Jr. focused on tourism as a come-on, while Councilor Margarita “Margot” Osmeña, chairperson of the committee on tourism, said CamSur focused on a target market.
Both officials visited Camarines Sur recently.
Young said CamSur did well in enticing local tourists through its Water Sports Complex, a popular haven for wakeboarding enthusiasts.
“In Cebu, we have everything. But the Department of Tourism (DOT) is doing the wrong thing because it wants to cater to high-end tourists, not backpackers,” Young said.
Young said Cebu is building five-star hotels when it should be building its own mass of local tourists.
He observed that in CamSur, there are more local tourists even on weekdays. Foreign tourists flock to CamSur on weekends, he said.
Young said Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia should not take it as a criticism when officials say Villafuerte is doing a better job.
“We just want to say, learn from this. We (Cebu City officials) are not washing our hands because we are doing our part. Mike (Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama) and I are doing something to improve the garbage collection in the city,” said Young.
Osmeña also noted the importance of public comfort rooms to attract more tourists.
A Department of Tourism report stated that Cebu, Camarines Sur and Metro Manila, in that order, were the top three tourist destinations in 2009.
Cebu recorded more than 1.61 million tourists, compared to 1.57 million for CamSur. In comparison with tourist arrivals in 2008, however, the same government report showed Cebu’s tourist arrivals grew by 1.24 percent, compared to 117.25 percent for CamSur.
Young said tourism in CamSur is well-managed.
Osmeña said Villafuerte has capitalized on his hobby, wakeboarding, to make CamSur as the wakeboarding capital of the Philippines.
Osmeña said there are many youngsters in CamSur because of the Water Sports Complex and the beer park.
“The operation is very simple, there was nothing high-tech about it but they focused on a target market,” said Osmeña.
The councilor wants to bring this idea to Cebu, but without neglecting the cultural and historical spots that Cebu has been known for, like the Magellan’s Cross.
The CamSur Water Sports Complex is a government-run facility.
Another asset for Cebu that CamSur doesn’t have is more flights.
Young said he and the councilors had to leave for Cebu on a Wednesday because the flights for the weekend were booked. Flights to and from CamSur are limited.
Cebu City also has bigger malls, more restaurants and bars.
Young and the councilors will discuss with Rama the things they learned during the three-day trip to CamSur. Osmeña said she will meet with the tourism council on Monday. – PNA