Cebu tourism makes a comeback


The Cebu Cordova Expressway.

By Diego C. Cagahastian

CEBU province, its three cities of Cebu City, Mandaue City and Lapu-lapu City, are all dancing to the tune of progress and economic recovery via the clear signs of a resurgence of tourism in this Queen City of the South.

Several media professionals went to Cebu City and Cordova town recently to savor the place’s warm hospitality and find evidence that indeed, tourism has started to return to Central Visayas. We saw the influx of “revenge travelers” in Cebu, most of them locals from Luzon.

Upon arrival, first to be noticed of course is the airport, which has become busier than the last time we were here last April during the inauguration of the CCLEX (Cebu-Cordova Link Expressway). It coincided with the 501st anniversary of the Battle of Mactan, the first real event in this part of the world which would have made headlines in Europe had it been the age of modern media. The link expressway which is today’s longest bridge in the Philippines spans 650 meters, including a 390-meter center span.

The Mactan-Cebu International Airport owned by the Department of Transportation and managed by GMR-Megawide Cebu Airport Corp. has come a long way since the 1950s when the US Air Force built its runway. It now hosts 36 domestic destinations and 37 international routes. The airport is also a busy hub for Cebu Pacific (CEB) and four other airlines. Operations, however, was lately sold by GMR-Megawide to the Aboitiz Group which is now managing the modern airport.

Since the airline carries the city’s name, CEB has actually the busiest flights: 15 daily from Manila to Cebu. Apart from this, the airline operates direct flights to Cebu from 21 other destinations such as Cagayan de Oro, Clark, Davao, General Santos and Iloilo, said Roxanne Gochuico of Cebu Pacific.

The pool of bai Hotel offers a panoramic view of Metro Cebu. (baihotels.com)

There are many good hotels in Metro Cebu but bai is the hotel of choice for this group of Manila newsmen. Going by its name, bai is truly Cebuano, for it is the local dialect’s term for “brother” or “partner,” an exact translation of the Tagalog’s “pare”. bai Hotel lives up to its name, therefore, of being homely — a modern hotel with a homely atmosphere. The hotel is at Ouano Ave. corner CD Seno St., City South Special Economic Administrative Zone, Mandaue City.

Alfred Reyes, vice president – ​​operation and general manager of bai Hotel, said their hotel has been lucky to survive the Covid-19 pandemic which is the lowest point in Central Visayan tourism in recent memory. They remained open and operational because of management’s practical policy of downsizing at the height of the pandemic. Now that business has started to normalize, Reyes looked back at the challenges bai Hotel surmounted in the past two years of the pandemic, and felt proud that they did.

A blurb says that bai Hotel’s 668 guest rooms and 8 restaurants are stylishly designed in contemporary hues that evoke an ambiance of modern luxury and spaciousness secured with a world-class access control system. Having a taste of staying in bai’s well-appointed room, with full-course breakfast and dinner buffets, and basic amenities during our Cebu trip, we dare affirm that such a description is true.

A must-visit place in bai Hotel is the al fresco Twilight Roofdeck Lounge + Bar on the hotel’s 23rd floor. Customers are treated to a 360-degree view of both Cebu and Mactan island city skylines for their visual delight. Gustatory needs are satisfied by an extensive menu of must-try bar chow dishes that go well with the best wines and cocktails available in this part of town.

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