Cebu is taking steps towards reviving domestic tourism with the rollout of a marketing campaign, confident that it is ready to welcome back travellers exactly a year after the Philippines first entered a nationwide lockdown.
As part of the campaign, the I Love Cebu online platform (traveloco.ph/ilovecebu) is offering up to 70 per cent discount on airfares, tours and accommodations until April 30.
Lara Constantino Scarrow, director of sales and marketing at Marco Polo Plaza Cebu, said the campaign offers great deals “while stimulating interest and reminding people that Cebu is still the ideal destination”.
Meanwhile, the Tourism Promotions Board has allocated funds for a number of milestone projects this year in Region 7, including Cebu.
Pre-pandemic, Cebu topped the country’s foreign arrivals, followed by Boracay. It is also popular among domestic tourists twinned with Bohol and as the jump off point to other island destinations in the Visayas.
Alfred Reyes, president of the Hotel, Resort and Restaurant Association of Cebu, said the “sustained campaign” came as Covid-19 is under control, vaccines have arrived, and the destinations strictly practice health and safety protocols for responsible travel.
Cebu is also the country’s second international gateway after Manila, making the city more accessible to travellers; while Visayas islands can also be easily accessed via Cebu, said Margie Munsayac, Bluewater Resorts vice president sales and marketing.
Munsayac said Cebu is a “complete destination” with beaches north and south, mountain resorts and urban cities, as well as quiet and retreat spaces. The city is also a hub of culinary delights, heritage and culture, wellness and faith-based tourism, she added.
Aines Librodo, head for airline marketing and tourism development, GMR Megawide Cebu Airport Corp., said Cebu’s international airport is ready for both domestic and international tourists, pointing out that the safety protocols for both domestic and international travellers are the same.
However, she suggested that plans have to be laid out to prepare for the return of travellers, particularly in issues pertaining to travel clearance requirements, such as whether vaccinated foreign tourists will still be required to undergo RT-PCR test and/or be subjected to mandatory quarantine upon arrival.
These issues have to be made clear as “we don’t want travellers to be confused,” Librodo emphasised.
She added that changes in travel curbs and opening up of travel bubbles should be announced very early on to allow tourists time to plan and prepare their trips, and take advantage of travel deals. She cited the example of the UK’s announcement made on February 27 on the easing of lockdown in May, resulting in “a surge in bookings for holiday packages”.