Tourists from US start arriving

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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

A WELCOME that’s warmer and grander awaits some 600 passengers of two chartered flights coming from the US today, bringing tourists and Cebuanos coming home to celebrate Sinulog.

But even before the bulk of the balikbayans and tourists arrive, the Department of Tourism (DOT) already reported a 100-percent occupancy rate in most hotels in Cebu City, with some charging their guests 30 percent more than their regular rates.

At the Mactan airport, colorful buntings, welcome kits, leis, a Sinulog performance and the warm smile of Cebuana beauties will greet the passengers arriving this morning.


Altars with the image of Sto. Nino were also set up in selected areas of the airport to give tourists and balikbayans a chance to pay homage to the Holy Child as soon as they enter the terminal buildings.

Mactan-Cebu International Airport Authority (MCIAA) public affairs manager Mary Ann Dimabayao yesterday said they want the welcome to be extra special and memorable for the guests, especially for those whose families here may have been affected by the earthquake and typhoon that hit parts of the Visayas last October and November.

“We’ve stepped up our preparations for the arrival of guests coming to watch the Sinulog since the bulk of the balikbayans and tourists are arriving tomorrow,” she said during the Association of Government Information Officers forum yesterday.

Fully booked

Department of Tourism (DOT) 7 Director Rowena Montecillo said about 600 balikbayans and tourists from Las Vegas, Los Angeles and San Francisco are arriving in two chartered flights this morning and will be welcomed by the Balik-Cebu committee of the Cebu City Tourism Commission.

The Balik-Cebu program was launched 13 years ago to help balikbayans enjoy their stay in Cebu.

The Philippine Airlines plane from San Francisco, California will also land in Manila before coming to Cebu, so they expect tourists from Manila to arrive in the same flight.

The Cathay Pacific flight, on the other hand, will bring passengers from Las Vegas and Los Angeles.

Montecillo confirmed that nearly all hotels in Cebu City are fully booked, while hotels and resorts in Lapu-Lapu City have a 70-percent occupancy rate.

She said they have no record yet of the tourist arrivals so far this year, but she expects the number to increase during the Sinulog weekend and the Chinese New Year later this month.

MCIAA records show that tourist arrivals in January has steadily increased in the last 10 years, but Dimabayao said they have no record of the number of tourists who came to Cebu solely for the Sinulog.

In 2004, tourist arrivals totaled 107,893. Last year, the total number of domestic and international arrivals reached 307,985.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 16, 2014.

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