The Department of Tourism (DOT) and Department of Transportation (DOTr) will bring bloggers, vloggers, and other social media influencers to Bantayan Island next month to entice more people to travel and show how tourism in the new normal looks like.
Governor Gwendolyn Garcia supported the national agencies’ move as this is in line with the Cebu Provincial Government’s revival of the tourism industry that was one of the first industries to be badly hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The event will be organized by DOT and DOTr through the Mactan Cebu International Airport Authority (MCIAA) and GMR-Megawide Corporation. It will be held in time for the soft opening of the Bantayan Island Airport before December this year.
In a meeting with Garcia on Thursday, October 22, MCIAA General Manager Atty. Steve Dicdican shared their plans to arrange a tourism event that will urge the people to visit the different tourist destinations in the Province.
The governor suggested that a mini Suroy-Suroy sa Sugbo be afforded to the invited guests so they experience the island’s tourism sites and the locals’ hospitality.
Considered as the “Paradise of the North”, Bantayan Island was recently recognized by the DOT as the most visited island in Visayas and the seventh in the entire country.
Dicdican emphasized that there is a need to show to the people that they can travel for fun and leisure while keeping themselves safe from Covid-19.
"Basically, ang atoa situation karon, there are many countries that are trying to resume tourism. In a way, it’s not a visceral experience. For most people, it is just a set of protocols and the idea that destination is open but they don’t see it, they don’t feel it. Most are staying home wanting to be safe," he said.
What the event will do is to “enliven them and promote that desire to travel,” he added.
To do this, social media influencers will be invited to showcase and promote the Province’s reopened tourism industry through photos and videos.
"The idea is to bring in people who can influence others. It will obviously be video-taped and published for everyone to see and experience what they are experiencing in a sort of a visceral way, how travel is and how travel can be done safely," he said.
“What we want to show is a targeted messaging and we want to have it in a controlled environment kay it’s sort of an experiment of how the new tourism normal will look like,” he added.
The event is set to complement the soft opening of the island’s airport that is currently undergoing rehabilitation through the partnership of the Capitol, MCIAA and DOTr.
Garcia recently inspected the ongoing project in Bantayan Island which is a realization of a long-held dream of Bantayanons.
Its runway is increased from 900 meters to 1.2 kilometers to welcome turbo-prop airplanes, making the island airport into a commercial one.
Back then, it was a community airport that can only accommodate chartered and aviation aircrafts.
Dicdican said this is the best chance for Cebu to stay ahead.
“Everyone is zero in tourism and we can take this as an opportunity to get ahead of everyone else in terms of marketing for our destinations,” he added.
Earlier this month, Cebu and the Visayas was 2020 Reachers’ Choice Award by international travel magazine Conde Nast as best islands in the Asian Region.
It bested Sri Lanka; Ko Pha Ngan in Thailand; and Palawan and Siargao Islands in the Philippines. (Vanessa L. Almeda)