Cebu tourism remains buoyant, targets 4.5 million visitors by year-end

THE outlook for the tourism industry in Cebu for the rest of the year remains buoyant, with the rapid infrastructure development providing the competitive edge for the province as an attractive travel destination.

Real-estate services and adviser CB Richard Ellis Philippines (CBRE) made this observation in its latest overview of the Metro Cebu property market.

It added that property developers, like Sta. Lucia Land Inc., and international hotel chain Dusit International are expanding their hospitality portfolios in the province, attracted by the latter’s upbeat tourism sector.

In a text message to the BusinessMirror, Rowena Montecillo, regional director for the Department of Tourism (DOT) in Central Visayas, said the agency is targetting visitor arrivals to jump by 35.44 percent to 4.47 million this year.

 From January to June 2016, visitor arrivals in Cebu grew by some 3.8 percent to 1.8 million, she said, with the largest numbers coming from South Korea, Japan, the United States, China and Australia. She added that the average daily expenditure for the period in review was $103.55 (P4,970.40).

In its latest property report, CBRE said MICE (meetings, incentives, conventions, and exhibitions) activities have been a “key demand driver” in visitor arrivals, as well as cultural events like the Sinulog Festival, and the seasonal vacations and leisure holidays of travelers.

At present, there are 74 hotels in Cebu offering 7,778 rooms. A large bulk of these rooms, numbering 2,386, are in the peripheral areas of the Cebu Business Park, followed by 2,142 rooms in the outskirts, then 1,790 rooms along Fuente Osmeña. The reclamation and downtown areas offer a total of 1,350 rooms.

CBRE said the average hotel rates in the first half of the year reached P4,304 per night, with many reporting above 90-percent occupancy rates, among them Radisson Blu Hotel (99 percent) and The Golden Peak Hotel and Suites (94.28 percent).

More hotels are expected to be constructed. “Sta. Lucia Land Inc. recently announced that it will continue to focus on tourism-related developments, particularly outside Metro Manila including Cebu. Likewise, international hotel developers have been seen to embark on Cebu’s thriving market. Leading Asian hospitality group Dusit International has signed a partnership with local developer Grand Land Inc. to bring its second hotel brand in the province. Dusit Princess Hotel in Mandaue will open by 2018, adding a total of 295 guestrooms with international-standard facilities,” the real-estate analyst said.

The strong growth of the province’s tourism sector has encouraged more foreign carriers to offer it as a destination, as well as increase their number of flights, CBRE said.

“Thai Smile Airways recently announced its plan to open a Cebu-to-Bangkok route by October this year. It will provide an additional 58,968 international air-seats per year to Cebu, stimulating air-traffic demand in both opportunity markets. This will provide a faster and more convenient travel experience for tourists from the Central and Southern Philippines compared to the current option with flights going to Manila then Bangkok.” The ongoing expansion of the Mactan-Cebu International Airport is also providing impetus for the route expansion of said carrier.

“In this regard, it can be expected that tourism, business and leisure travel will significantly increase and contribute to the economic prosperity of Cebu,” according to CBRE.

The real-estate adviser emphasized that the province’s attractiveness as a travel destination is buoyed by its strengthening infrastructure network. “Infrastructure development remains a key success and competitive factor as the province continues in its pursuit to become the top travel destination for tourists, as well as a premier hub for international investors.”

It cites upcoming projects that would further boost the tourism sector in the province, such as the Cebu-Cordovan Bridge, Cebu-Negros Oriental Bridge, and a P35-billion urban automated guideway transit-type rail system. Projects that have been recently completed in the first half of 2016 include the Cebu South Road and Cebu Toledo Wharf Road.

“With the effective marketing of both private and government units, sustained industry competitiveness can be expected in the coming years, for this will serve as a beacon not only for increased visitor arrivals but also for tourism players to further pursue business undertakings in Cebu,” CBRE said.



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