The Department of Tourism (DOT) 7 is projecting 2.6 million to 2.8 million tourist arrivals in Cebu by 2013.
Cebu’s tourism industry has experienced a vibrant year in 2012, with tourists reaching 1.7 million as of September last year, according to DOT 7 Director Rowena Montecillo.
Montecillo said the number of tourists as of September is 11.07 percent higher than the 1.5 million tourists recorded during the same period in 2011.
Cebu is also seen to strengthen its position as the no. 2 airport in the country but is facing challenges from other secondary airports like Iloilo, Bacolod, Bohol, Cagayan de Oro and Caticlan, which are all vying for international connections.
The government, under its public-private partnership program, also opened the bidding for the P8-billion expansion of the Mactan-Cebu International Airport.
Conglomerates like Ayala Corp. and Aboitiz Equity Ventures, Metro Pacific Investment Corp. and San Miguel Corp. have expressed interest in joining the bidding.
But Hotels, Resort and Restaurants Association of Cebu (HRRAC) president Hans Hauri said they want to increase foreign tourist arrivals who are big spenders as they would drive income of people in the industry.
“To that end, we need more air connections from major areas like Europe, the USA as well as Russia,” he said.
“We have all the right instruments in place to make 2013 a better year,” said Hauri.
He referred to growth drivers like air connections, rooms supply, value-rates, promotions campaigns, working committees on improving infrastructure, tourism-focused policies and experienced workforce.
Hauri said recent purchases of new aircraft by airline companies add capacity to the market.
Cebu Pacific vice president for marketing and distribution Candice Iyog said Cebu Pacific is planning to grow its Cebu hub this year with the delivery of seven new Airbus A320 units.
Montecillo said the DOT 7 is also preparing for a number of international cruise ships to visit Cebu and Bohol and the visit of 500 Japanese English as Second Language (ESL) students for a familiarization tour in Cebu by 2013.
She said this will be the first of a series of familiarization tours of ESL students from Osaka, Japan.
Hauri earlier said the 61 percent average occupancy across Cebu shows the stability of the tourism sector.
Room supply increased by 11 percent in 2012. Hauri said they expect a 10 percent increase this year with 500 more rooms being built.
Cebu City has 141 hotels with 9,335 rooms.
The completion of the 500 rooms is expected to generate up to 5,000 new jobs for Cebuanos, tourism officials said. (PNA/FFC/EB/re)