Faith tourism comes to Cebu

CEBU CITY, Philippines, 9 January 2019: A travel experience that touches on the Christian faith and the colourful religious heritage of Catholic Philippines is gaining traction in Cebu.

According to a report in Cebu Daily News, Tuesday, a trip down faith’s memory lane to bring to life stories of the city’s historical churches and other religious structures is now on the cards.

Less than two weeks before tourism officials head for the annual ASEAN Tourism Forum to be hosed in Vietnam, 14 to 18 January, Cebu’s tourism officials say they are developing faith-based tourism that will focus on several centuries-old churches and Spanish structures in Cebu.

Head of the Provincial Tourism Office, Joselito ‘Boboi’ Costas, told CDN that the office was preparing the community for this type of tourism to secure long-term benefits.

The project starts by educating residents to conserve cultural heritage sites, while giving communities an opportunity to participate in and also benefit from tourism.

The challenge is to find ways to engage local residents to act as storytellers, while not infringing on the role of tour guides, a protected occupation under the law.

However, as the concept of “travel experiences” replaces traditional sightseeing the role of tour guides needs to be reviewed, while opportunities for local experts to make a living from tourism should be secured. It could involve recruiting senior citizens, retired teachers and professionals and even local clergy to supplement the role of guiding and explaining the deeper significance of religious sites and local culture.

“We plan to start this year just to lay down the groundwork or social preparation for this kind tourism. Ultimately, we want the communities to benefit from it,” Costas told CDN.

The Provincial Tourism Office is currently conducting restoration work on a watchtower in Barangay Obong in Dalaguete town as a preparation for the launch of the faith-based tourism.

Costas believes the project will help communities to conserve and appreciate their cultural heritage.

Apart from protecting religious structures in Cebu, bringing faith into the tourism experience will ultimately benefit communities, enrich their lives and also help them to enjoy some of the financial benefits of tourism.

(Source Cebu Daily News)