By Fatrick Tabada, Correspondent, Cebu Daily News
The twist is to offer the affordable lodging in urban poor homes, not upscale residences.
Barangay Luz is a good choice for a pilot area with its location near malls, said Councilor Alvin Dizon, chairman of the housing committee and one of 13 city councilors who joined the four-day “lakbay aral” tour to Camarines Sur in the Bicol region.
“This is a very good opportunity to boost tourism and at the same time our urban poor residents will have an extra income,” he told Cebu Daily News.
Dizon said Cebu City officials found out that Camarines Sur's bed-and-breakfast project offers local and foreign tourists a place to stay in resettlement areas. He said many tourists prefer the simple lodging, paying only P500 a day instead of P2,000 or more for a hotel room.
Attention on Camaraines Sur was heightened by results of the 2010 Conde Nast Traveler annual survey, reported in Cebu Daily News front page last Monday. Cebu was dropped from the list of Top Island Destinations, and replaced by Luzon in 7th place.
(Cebu, for four years, ranked 7th place in the international travel magazine's reader-based survey and 8th place for two years.)
The slide in ratings puzzled Cebu officials and even rekindled a word war between Rep. Tomas Osmeña and Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia over leadership and priorities of tourism development.
Osmeña praised Camarines Sur Gov. Luis Raymund Villafuerte Jr. for being “very focused” in developing water sports and promoting his province while blaming Garcia for promoting “her face” more than Cebu province.
Governor Garcia, in turn, said Osmeña was spreading “lies” that Cebu was no longer the no. 1 tourist destination, when statistics of the Department of Tourism show otherwise.
DOT official figures show that Camarines Sur drew the biggest number of domestic tourists in the country last year at 1,258,212 with a sharp 140 percent increase in a year's time.
But combining local and foreign visitors, Cebu is still the no. 1 tourist destination in the Philippines drawing in 1,615,982 tourists in 2009. Camarines Sur was close behind with 1,566,447. (See table.)
Councilor Dizon said he'll meet on Monday with the city housing board to discuss his idea of replicating a bed-and-breakfast program by next year.
Dizon was impressed with how Camarines Sur was using tourism revenues for programs to alleviate poverty and develop communities.
“If they can do that, then there is no reason why Cebu City can't do it,” Dizon said.
“This is also a good chance to make the tourists feel the hospitality of Cebuanos.”
He said barangay Luz would be a good pilot area as well as barangay Camputhaw and Mabolo.
Marlyn Paracuelles, president of the Association of Barangay Apas Community Association (ABACA), which has 1,200 urban poor households, said Councilor Dizon called them yesterday about the idea.
“We will welcome the program with open arms. It is another income-generating activity for our urban poor residents,” she told CDN.
Dizon said guidelines can be set with heads of urban poor organizations and City Hall's Division of Welfare of the Urban Poor for the pilot project.
The 13 councilors were expected to arrive to Cebu City last night.
Vice Mayor Augustus Young and Councilor Margot Osmena arrived last Friday.