If there was any doubt about the current state of tourism in the country, the 11th Regional Travel Fair held this year in Cebu dispelled it by exceeding pre-pandemic sales.
The three-day event, which took place at SM Seaside Cebu City from July 21-23, 2023, generated a total of 110 million pesos in actual and negotiated sales between travel exhibitors, which included travel agencies, hospitality brands, provincial tourism offices, and travelers looking for affordable and quality holiday packages and tourism-related services.
The P110 million sale achieved by the 11th RTF is a 32.7% increase over the 83 million peso sale made during the 10th Regional Travel Fair held in Laguna last October 2022.
The fair which is organized by the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) of the Philippines — the marketing arm of the Department of Tourism (DOT) serves as a one-stop source for discounted domestic tour packages, airline tickets and accommodations.
Marga Nograles, COO of the TPB, was overjoyed by the travel roadshow’s overwhelming success this year. “We are thrilled to witness the overwhelming response and enthusiasm from exhibitors and visitors during the Regional Travel Fair. The outstanding sales leads signal a bright future for the tourism industry in the post-pandemic era and reaffirm travelers’ confidence in the safety of their travels.”
Highlighting the Region’s Cultural and Tourism Sites
The RTF, as one of TPB’s flagship programs is conducted across different regions of the country, with the most recent RTFs taking place in Sorsogon in May 2022 and Laguna in October 2022. The staging of the exhibition in several locations provides a platform for different regions to showcase their tourist attractions in collaboration with other regional tourism offices and major stakeholders.
With the 11th RTF being hosted in Cebu, some of Central Visayas’ cultural heritage was highlighted, including the handloom weaving culture of Hablon Weavers of Argao and Banig Weavers of Badian.
As part of the media that covered the 11th RTF, this writer joined members of TPB on a side-trip to Argao, a seaside municipality noted for its four Ts namely: Tableya, Torta, Tuba, and Textile (Hablon).
Upon arriving in Argao, we promptly visited the women weavers at their weaving centre located within the Cebu Technological University campus.
Hablon is a type of handwoven cloth produced by women in the Visayas region, particularly on Panay Island and parts of Cebu. The term “Hablon” is derived from the Hiligaynon word “Habol,” which translates to “to weave.”
Hablon weaving in Argao, similar to other areas in the Visayas, experienced a decline over the past few decades. However, in 2013, the local government unit (LGU) and other government agencies, such as the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), took steps to revive this traditional method of cloth-making. As part of these efforts, training facilities were established, including the one located within the Cebu Technological University (CTU). Today, the Hablon weavers of Argao are flourishing in the production of cloth for consumers worldwide. They have formed partnerships with renowned designers like Kenneth Cobonpue to create weaves not only for clothing but also for furniture and various other products.
We also made a stop at the heritage town of Carcar to enjoy some delicious lechon, which was freshly roasted and sold in the town’s market. Additionally, we visited the St. Catherine’s Church, a 19th-century architectural marvel that combines elements of Revival Baroque and Neo-Mudejar Moorish styles, with hints of Greco-Roman and Islamic influences, as well as Temple of Leah and Casa Gorordo Museum.
Over the course of three days, we got a taste of the city’s gastronomic scene at some of the forefront contemporary restaurants in Cebu City, including Fili All-Day Dining by NUSTAR, CAVA (which is located in a 120-year-old house), Bell + Amadeus, Seargao, The Pig and Palm, and CUR8.
The 11th RTF was made possible thanks to the support of the Department of Tourism Region VII, the Provincial Government of Cebu, and the City Government of Cebu. The event was sponsored by various partners from the private sector, including SM Seaside City, 2GO, Jpark Island, Cebu Pacific, Air Asia, Philippine Airlines, NUSTAR, Fili Hotel, CAVA, Bluewater Maribago Mactan, and Marco Polo Cebu.
The TPB hopes that more visitors and vendors will attend the Regional Travel Fair in the Ilocos Region this coming October.
Image credits: Marky Ramone Go