The Department of Tourism has recorded about one million South Korean tourists who arrived in Cebu in 2017.
This continued influx of tourists from South Korea is attributed to the world-class beach resorts, exotic cultural festivities, and well-preserved historic landmarks around the province.
According to DOT regional director for Central Visayas Shalihmar Hofer Tamano, the influx of tourist can also be attributed to the peace and order situation, improved air connectivity, and of course, unparalleled Filipino hospitality as the reason for the Cebu tourism boom.
Tamano, who met with officials of the Korean Consulate and members of the Korea Travel Agencies Association, said that the unique and genuine hospitality of Filipinos and the Cebuano charm are the two things that attract Koreans, Japanese, and Chinese visitors to Central Visayas.
Tamano also assured South Korean Consul General Oh Sung-Yung that there is constant coordination between the Philippine National Police and military authorities to ensure the safety of tourists.
Last year, many South Korean tourists postponed or cancelled their bookings in Cebu and Bohol because of the activities of Islamic insurgents in Bohol. DOT officials went to visit Seoul to assure travel agencies that Cebu and Bohol are safe for tourists. Tamano was tasked to promote Cebu and other Philippine destinations during the annual Korea Travel Fair.
According to him, over 840, 000 tourists from South Korea arrived in the region with most of them visiting Bantayan, Mactan, Camotes, Oslob, Malapascua, and Cebu City. Tamano added that the figures may have even reached one million although data are still being collected.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if Cebu would soon be known as the Seoul of the Philippines, the Koreans’ home away from home,” Tamano said.
He also underscored the holistic approach of DOT in promoting tourism to overseas markets – a combination of eco-agri-faith attractions and destinations. He also noted that the Sinulog festival this year drew crowds of thousands of international and domestic tourists.
Some of the major tourist attractions in Cebu are the Basilica Minore del Santo Nino, Magellan’s Cross, Taoist Temple, Fort San Pedro, Carbon Market, Lake Danao, restaurants serving Cebuano dishes like sutukil, chocolates by local artisanal confectioners, lechon Cebu and Carcar chicharon, and seafood restaurants.
DOT is also promoting other key destinations in the country, while it is moving away from Boracay Island because of the ongoing rehabilitation efforts.
Korea remains the top source market for tourists in the Philippines with a record 1.6 million arrivals making 24 percent of the total arrivals that year.