OPINION: Should Cebu be the face of Philippine Tourism?

Is it really more fun in the Philippines? If so, why do many foreigners still think that the Philippines is dirty, crowded, and dangerous. To recall what the renowned author Dan Brown’s description of the Manila, Philippines: it’s the “Gates of Hell”. With more and more backlash with regards to the capital’s discrepancies, the World’s Most Influential Marketing Leader, suggested to replace the branding of the Philippines by promoting Cebu as its new face for Philippine Tourism.

Despite travel warnings issued against the Southern part of the province last 2018, Cebu’s tourist arrivals has reached up to 14.33% increase in comparison to last 2017’s data. On the press release of the Department of Tourism, DOT-7 announced that tourist arrivals of last year reached to 5,575,896 which is higher compared to 2017 which only had 4,877,047. This has become an outstanding industry that has placed Cebu into higher pedestal with stronger economic resiliency.

It can be remembered that Central Visayas had a total of eight million arrivals that contributed to P44.2 billion in the region’s economy. Such increase was attributed to the increasing number of flights to and from Cebu, thanks to the opening of the new Mactan Cebu International Airport Terminal 2 and the new Panglao International Airport. With boat and flight connections, Cebu became a premier stopover to those who want to explore the nearby islands of Visayas and Mindanao.

One of the world’s influential marketing leaders by World Marketing Congress, Jacqueline Thng, noted that the Philippines will continue to suffer with bad perception problems which in turn hinder tourists to visit the country if it won’t do anything about it. Having been in the marketing business for more than 20 years, Thng suggested to choose a city that can better represent the country’ heart and soul – that’s Cebu, ladies and gentlemen.

Having been a CEO of Lexis Branding and managing director of Brand Union and Ogilvy enable Thng to help companies develop and implement business strategies that would combine in-depth analytics and activate strategic growth opportunities. She saw this approach to be best implemented in Cebu. According to her, branding should start from within; it has to be consistent because when execution fails, so as branding.

The country’s campaign of “It’s more fun in the Philippines” is too promising and there’s so much that needs to be done, most especially in Cebu. This is the reason why the former president of the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Lito Maderazo, suggested for the province to come up with better tourism strategy that would provide tourists with unique and memorable experience by showing them every Cebuano’s way of life – not just about staying in 5 star hotels, malls, or beaches. The tourism officers must allow tourists to see the evolution of Cebu’s history, taste its local delicacy, and learn more about its culture. In addition, in order to fully-boost Cebu’s tourism the government must play a vital role in improving infrastructures, solving flood problems, and controlling the traffic congestion to and fro the airport.

Jacqueline Thng’s suggestion of making Cebu as the new face of the tourism in the country may be plausible, but needed to be painstakingly done. Are the Cebuanos ready for this? Is Cebu ready for this? Do you agree with this?