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Cebu to open borders for inter-province tourists
By: Mylen Manto | Published Saturday, December 12, 2020
Gov. Gwen Garcia announced that Cebu Province will soon welcome tourists from other provinces. (FILE PHOTO)

The Province of Cebu will soon open its doors to welcome residents of other provinces who wish to visit Cebu’s tourism sites.

Governor Gwendolyn Garcia announced Friday, December 11 that she is considering the opening of the Province’s borders to tourists from neighboring provinces. She will meet the Provincial Tourism Task Force to establish guidelines and protocols for this.

“Because you see, it’s really time for us to realize that in the final analysis, it’s the economic situation now of so many that have been affected by these restrictions that we must prioritize. Unya kaning Central Visayas is a tourism region,” she said.

“Okay rata diri Cebu, kung Province lang we’re 3.2 million, apil ang Cebu City that’s another million, that’s 4.2 milion, apil ang Lapu-lapu City that’s about 600. We’re about 5 million. Maka-sustain rata,” Garcia emphasized.

She added that if 10 or 20 percent of about 5 million people will go around and visit the tourism sites in the entire island, Cebu can sustain itself amidst pandemic.

Inter-province tourism

The four governors of Central Visayas was supposed to meet Wednesday, December 2 to discuss the possibility of an inter-province tourism but the governors of Bohol, Siquijor, and Negros Oriental cancelled.  

Garcia said Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo was willing to come to Cebu for the meeting but cancelled after learning Bohol and Siquijor governors did.

Despite this, she is set to continue with opening Cebu’s tourism to other local tourists for the sake of the tourism stakeholders in the Province.

“So, we have to move it but I have already decided. Maayo man gyud ning mulibot ta ba kay makuha natong feedback sa mga resort owners, ang mga stakeholders nato diri sa Cebu. I’m going to sit down with the Provincial Tourism Task Force,” Garcia said. 

“If the other provinces are still closing themselves to inter-province nga tourism but they will allow their people to come to us, then we will establish guidelines. Para ang kadtong gusto intawon mubisita og Malapascua Island kay naibog kaayo, ang kadtong gusto muadto og Bantayan labi na kon duna silay mga paryente diri - ang ilang roots gikan diri sa Cebu, we will establish guidelines and protocols for that to allow them entry into our Province,” she continued.

Since Degamo is more open to inter-province tourism, Garcia intends to talk to him first, especially since there are daily trips between Bato, Samboan to Negros Oriental and vice-versa. 

The governor emphasized that the inter-province tourism is a big help in reviving the tourism industry that is heavily affected by the pandemic and the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF)’s new travel policy is a gateway for tourism promotion.

Recently, the IATF now allowed travel from general community quarantine (GCQ) to modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) zones or vice-versa for essential and non-essential purposes. 

“I am seriously thinking of opening up Cebu Island to our neighboring provinces even if dili pa sila mo decide nga mudawat sa ato. Under certain protocols, mudawat ta og tourist coming from other islands,” she said.

She shared that there are already inquiries from Metro Manila expressing their interest to visit Cebu’s destinations such as Malapascua Island for the thresher sharks and Oslob for the whalesharks which are unique to the Province.

Garcia will sit down with Department of Tourism (DOT) 7 Director Shalimar Hofer Tamano to come up with guidelines and protocols to be followed in this tourism endeavor. 

According to the latest data, the active Covid-19 cases in Cenral Visayas are decreasing as people are learning to cope and manage the disease by following the established health protocols, she added. (Mylen Manto)