CEBU CITY—The provincial government of Cebu is now focusing on developing more ecotourism destinations around the province, following the launch of the “Big 5” ecotourism destinations in southern Cebu.
Cebu Provincial tourism Officer Joselito Costas said the recent launch of the Big 5 ecotourism destinations in South Cebu was just the start of sustainable tourism efforts in the province.
“The Big 5 was just the start. After the launch, the province will focus on the north and prepare and train the next batch of towns with communities that show commitment to learn more about ecotourism and develop their area,” he said.
So far, 25 towns have actively participated in the province’s Community-based Ecotourism Project for the midwest, south and north phases.
The Big 5, the first batch launched last month, comprises Alcoy, Alegria, Aloguinsan, Argao and Boljoon in the south.
In Alcoy, home of Cebu’s remaining forest and the native songbird siloy, bird watching and a nature trek await visitors.
In Alegria farm-to-table tourism is highlighted, offering a lunch of freshly picked organic vegetables at the farm.
In Aloguinsan the international award-winning Bojo River Cruise, a popular paddleboat tour through mangroves, is complemented with a glass-bottom boat along the coast and a trip to Hermit’s Cove beach.
Guests are offered cacao served as a hot drink, torta cakes and tuba (coconut wine) in Argao’s Culinary Tour, which is capped with a visit to a hablon weaving center.
Boljoon’s itinerary includes a tour of its fortress-church complex, one of Cebu’s oldest and listed by the Philippine government as a National Cultural Treasure. A visit to the church museum and bell tower shows a glimpse of its pre-Spanish heritage.
“These towns were included in the Big 5 because they have capable community-based associations ready to undertake ecotourism ventures. These are also towns, aside from 20 other towns, that are recipients of the Cebu Community-based Ecotourism Project funded by the Cebu provincial government,” Costas said.
Cebu Gov. Hilario Davide III earlier said his administration will continue to work toward community-based sustainable tourism, saying tourism remains a very big and important industry in the province.
“We want our communities to take pride in what is local, authentic and homegrown,” Davide said, adding community-based tourism will help the province achieve its goal of sustained and inclusive economic growth in the countryside.
Davide said Cebu continues to be the “Tourism Gateway” to Central Visayas and southern Philippines, attracting approximately 35 percent of the country’s total foreign visitors.
He also cited initial data from the Department of Tourism 7, which showed Cebu welcomed close to 1.5 million visitors between January and April 2017, up 4.16 percent from 1.43 million visitors during the same four-month period last year.
The increase in Cebu’s tourism numbers came as tourist arrivals in the entire Central Visayas dipped by 3.02 percent in the first four months of the year due to travel advisories and securities threats earlier this year.