CBM 2021

The travel and tourism industry is among those hit the hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic. As this is a grave concern for both private and public sectors, the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry CCCI kicked off a one-day virtual Tourism Summit on June 24 as part of their flagship project, the Cebu Business Month (CBM). The event brought together top-notch speakers and panelists to discuss key ideas and strategies that could accelerate the recovery of the tourism economy by rebuilding tourists’ confidence. 

Over a year since the onset of the pandemic, its impact continues to overwhelm various sectors of the economy. Global recession was declared by the International Monetary Fund and around the globe, tourist destinations recorded one billion less than the international arrivals in the year 2020. 

In his presentation on The Future of Philippine Travel, Cebu Pacific (CEB) Chief Commercial Officer, Mr. Alexander "Xander" Lao shared that the total number of scheduled flights throughout the world went down to 42 percent. Regardless, the air transport sector can only remain hopeful as its clients are not limited to the tourism sector alone but a host of business, government, and private customers including overseas workers. 

“In spite of the pandemic, we believe that the aviation sector is still a very key contributor to the Philippine economy,” Lao said. He discussed how the aviation sector is both a job and value multiplier as it paves the way for the creation of a sustainable value chain that includes the tourism industry, domestic first, and international in the future. For every job, air transport creates, another 26 other jobs related to the sector are created. 

According to Lao, 40 percent of our total traffic within the Philippines is made up of domestic passengers. Furthermore, traveler confidence improves as the country secures its vaccine supply for its population. In this case, the domestic market will lead the way to recovery. Knowing this, CEB strongly supports and backs the government’s vaccination program. As of July 8, CEB has safely transported nine (9) million doses of vaccines from abroad to the Philippines and over 2.5 million doses to 20 domestic destinations. This is social entrepreneurship in action. 

Lao presented four considerations as a response to the future of Philippine Tourism: health, flexibility, sustainability for future-proofing, and domestic recovers first. 

Health remains an integral concern in passenger safety, more so during this time. The airline has always prioritized safety of everyJuan; thus, it continues to implement a multi-layered approach to safety and introduced stricter protocols which include contactless flight guidelines, cabin crew in full PPEs, and daily disinfection of the aircraft.

Due to changes in passenger travel patterns, businesses need to pivot and adapt to the current situation. Immediate near departure travel is expected and flexible options have been provided for every Juan. Cebu Pacific has permanently removed change fees in March and introduced its newest innovation, the CEB Super Pass. This product allows its customers to buy all they can, and fly when they can to any domestic destination within the airline’s network. In addition, the airline has mounted hybrid flights which improved its cargo-carrying capacity through the introduction of cargo on seats.

For sustainability, the airline ensures its survival and thrives to fulfill its commitment to passengers in the years to come. This year alone, CEB has received two brand new eco-planes, the Airbus 321neo, which are more fuel-efficient and friendlier to the environment as it has significantly fewer carbon emissions and 50% less noise footprint. The airline has also accelerated its digital transformation and continues to invest in the enhancement of self-service platforms and Charlie the chatbot. 

 “We believe that domestic tourism will recover first. Based on the Nielsen survey, a greater number of passengers are wanting to take domestic flights and are actually keen to travel within the next six months,” Lao said. This is as opposed to international travels that have complexities in regulations. “People will be looking for more affordable travel options in the near future. Certainly, there will be a lot of revenge travel but the cost is still a primary consideration,” Lao added. 

CEB agrees that travel confidence in the Philippines is improving as a number of places have reopened for non-essential travel, such as Cebu, Boracay, Siargao, Bohol, and Manila. CEB has been providing safe and affordable air transport services for 25 years. 

Keynote Speaker Department of Tourism Secretary Hon. Bernadette Romulo Puyat asserted that we must prepare our industry for any type of disruption in the future. “It cemented our perspective that the long-term goal should not merely be to recover, but to make our industry better, stronger, more resilient, and sustainable. Our goal is not to transition to the new normal, but to rise above it and attain a better normal,” she added. 

Michael “Mike” Cubos, CCCI VP for Cebu Business Mobilization, said that the tourism sector will grow and must transform while beyond such growth, it must also rise forward.

Also speaking in the virtual summit was Hon. Christina G. Frasco, Mayor of the Municipality of Liloan and President of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines (Cebu) who reiterated that sustainable tourism is the only way forward along with the legislation that promotes land ownership. DOT Region 7 Dir. Shahlimar H. Tamano presented a Situationer Report for Cebu 2021 and What to Expect for 2022. Other speakers who shared their valued insights and expertise during the summit are Dr. Bryan Albert Lim, Internal Medicine and Infectious Diseases Specialist; Mr. Ryan Tan Yu, CEO of Mataverse; Ms. Maria Lester “Marti” Ybanez, Provincial Tourism Officer in the Province of Cebu; and 5th District of Cebu Provincial Board Member Hon. Andrei “Red” Duterte.

Ms. Cindi K. Chan, Chairman of Lapu-lapu City Tourism Cultural and Historical Affairs Commission, EVO Nature Camp owner Mr. Edwin Ortiz and Mr. Christian C. Tiongko, COO of Danasan Eco-Adventure Camp participated as the summit panelists and shared their invaluable insights on Tourism Experience Enhancement. The virtual Tourism Summit was hosted by CBM 2021 Tourism Committee Chairperson Ms. Brigitte Lim - Mueller. 

For more news and updates on CBM activities and events, visit www.cebubusinessmonth.com or email CBM secretariat thru cbm@cebuchamber.org

CBM 2021