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Cebu, Bohol tourism growth to surpass overall slowdown

CEBU, Philippines – There may be a slight slowdown in the country’s overall tourism sector, but Cebu and Bohol are seen to lead a remarkable tourism growth this year, said Department of Tourism (DOT) chief Joseph Ace Durano.

“I am very confident Central Visayas, especially Cebu and Bohol, will do well this year,” Durano said.

He said the opening this April of the Korean-led Imperial Palace Waterpark Resort and Spa, an upscale resort hotel in Mactan, Cebu, is expected to boost high-end Korean arrivals to Cebu and the rest of the region.

Despite the slowdown of arrivals from top markets like Korea and United States, Durano said some emerging foreign travelers from Russia and China will fill in the gap, and sustain an encouraging growth of the region’s tourism trade.

Durano stressed the importance of both Chinese and Russian markets, being among the resilient travel markets amid the global financial meltdown. These countries are noted to have high spending tourists.

Central Visayas, which is considered the tourism gateway of the Philippines, attracted 2.1-million tourist arrivals in 2008.

Latest data released by the DOT-7 showed that total of 782,308 foreign visitor arrivals and about 1.34-million are domestic travelers, which posted a 9.2 percent growth rate last year.

The January to December 2008 figures reflected DOT 7 records whose sources of data include accommodation establishments such as hotels, inns, pension houses, resorts and beach resorts.

Among the four provinces, Cebu accounted for some 1.6 million domestic and foreign arrivals for the same period, followed by Bohol with 282,498 visitors.

The provinces of Negros Oriental and Siquijor have 221,045 and 18,147 visitors, respectively.

Based on DOT’s data, Koreans continue to dominate the total volume of tourist arrivals to the region with 226,587 visitors in 2008.

However the recent volume dropped down by 8,794 from 2007 data, which totaled 235,381 Korean visitors.

Next to the Koreans, the top two travel markets in the region are still Japan and the United States with total tourist volumes of 141,249 and 66,299, respectively.

Like Durano, tourism stakeholders in Cebu also believe that tourist arrivals from emerging markets like China and Russia is seen to create bullishness for the local tourism industry amid expected slowdown of the international travel market throughout the rest of the year.

Tourists from mainland China last year grew by 66 percent, from 18,608 in 2007 to 31,021 in 2008.

Arrivals last year from other parts of Europe, which includes Russia, jumped to 32.5 percent or 13,179 versus 9,940 tourists in the same period last 2007. — Ehda M. Dagooc

Source: Cebu, Bohol tourism growth to surpass overall slowdown

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