Despite the palpable impact of the global credit crisis to some sectors, the inbound segment of Cebu’s local, travel industry claims otherwise.
Travelvision, Inc. managing director and National Association of Independent Travel Agents (NAITAS)-Cebu Chapter chairman Jenny Franco said that inbound travel agents are not feeling the meltdown just yet. An indicator of this observation, according to Franco, is that there have been no cancellations so far from their clients, and, in fact, they have been receiving more travel bookings. She said that probably the effect of the global economic crisis will be felt around next quarter next year because so far things are still currently stable.
However, Franco expressed worries that the usual flock of Filipino Americans visiting Cebu during the Sinulog Mardi Gras come January will suffer a decline as the American economy struggles in the crisis. Franco said that a chartered flight from Los Angeles, California in the United States usually brings a big group of Filipino American devotees in time for Sinulog. “This group usually spends a long period of time here that would last around a month, because after the Sinulog celebration, they also go to their respective provinces for a long vacation. Most of this group also join the “Suroy-suroy sa Sugbo” caravan, which comes after the celebration of Sinulog,” added Franco.
Sinulog travel packages have always been offered by travel agents ever since the late 1980s, even when the Sinulog Mardi Gras was not as grand as it is today. However, despite woes on this possible decline, Franco said that so far there have been no cancellations yet from the usual clients they have. Franco added that Cebu right now has a lot of tourism-related activities to offer international clients such as scuba diving, golfing, island hopping, cruises, and even adventure tourism. She said that even though Cebu does not have a theme park, there are still a lot of alternative activities that could be enjoyed by vacationing families.
Right now, NAITAS is working closely with the Department of Tourism to develop adventure tourism travel packages that will feature other towns of Cebu, as well as revive adventure, community-based, rural, tourism activities such as carabao riding and tuba tasting in Carcar. They are also featuring the hot springs of Catmon in Northern Cebu, as well as a new destination for caving and bird watching in the south for their adventure, tourism packages. Franco said that these adventure tourism packages are enticing both local and foreign tourists
Because of cheaper air fare rates, domestic tourism, according to Franco, has been increasing so far, and Cebu has been getting a lot of local travelers from different parts of the country such as Manila and Davao. Mostly these local tourists are more drawn for beach-related, travel packages where they take optional tours as well, Franco concluded.