What we have, what we don’t and what is(not) happening.
One of Bohol’s thrust is eco-tourism, Camsur’s is nature and sporting events while Boracay clearly is enjoying the fruits from its beaches. While Bohol has and Boracay clearly wanted to preserved their shorelines, we chopped ours with barbed wire fences and walls posturing as wave breakers. While Boracay has learned its lesson from the E. coli scare in 1997, we’ve done nothing to clean our waters, Talisay and Lilo-an, anyone?
Whatever natural blessings these other destinations have, Cebu also has. For crying out loud, Camsur had to CREATE a waterpark. It is also not so much as what a place already has but what is HAPPENING. Camsur has IRONMAN, now for Cebu, aside from Sinulog, what else do we have? For example, Olanggo Island. It is known for bird watching during the wet season. Not many people have tried this activity. It is sad considering how near Olanggo is from Mactan island. What about a free or subsidized ferry boat ride? Just like Statten Island’s in NYC? Amazingly, the Talima resort, with its meager offering of fun with three inflatable “toys” draws more crowds than bird-watching. With all the water around us, has anyone ever thought of a water sporting event in Cebu? What about our diving industry? What has the local government ever done to support it? A strong partership between these private groups and the local government can create wonderful ideas for pushing Cebu’s tourism industry.
I envy Davao’s well manicured parks. The Sto Nino Shrine, Matina HIlls and the People’s Park. Cebu on the other hand, allegedly cannot even afford to light the Fuente Osmena oval and make its fountain flow regularly that the Lhuillers have to “sponsor” these expenses. Allegedly, Cebu was also hardpressed to finance the electric bill of the 2nd Mandaue – Mactan Bridge. The Heritage Monument in Parian, just across my bedroom is funded by the National Government.
I could be wrong but I don’t think money is the issue here, I believe its the lack of political will to really make things happen.
In summary, how did we lose to Camsur? Cebu is dirty. Although we have a rich culture and heritage, we have left most of them to neglect. Although we are blessed with natural resources, we are not maximizing their potential and in most cases, we are slowly destroying them. Although we have a strong private sector in the tourism and hospitality industry, we have not supported them in a way that encourages long – term benefits for both parties(the businessmen and the government).
Let’s clean up, continue to enhance infrastructure, provide for alternative source of income for the “locals”(vendors and pickpockets), save heritage buildings(including the Osmena Mausoleum), save our natural resources (beaches and mountains), support the local tourism industry (I don’t mean the big chains but the local resorts, diving shops, small travel agencies, the souvenir shops, the native crafts industry, etc), create, if not support, EVENTS that provide for experiences and memories for our tourists, not just sights to see. Lastly, for our local government, to stop the bickering and stop the focus on business for personal gain, but instead redirect attention to a strong income source for the city. – tourism. The alarm is on, it is time.