Travel group eyes Cebu for 2010 meet

August 8, 2009 - SKAL International Association of Travel and Tourism Professionals, Cebu chapter, will invest P3 million to P4 million to host the 39th Asian SKAL Congress on May 2010, according to chapter president Charles L. Lim.

“We see this as a good investment. We are looking at the long-term benefits,” Lim said, expecting a huge tourism boost for Cebu.

The announcement was made after SKAL world president Hulya Aslantas' meeting with Cebu chapter members at Shangri-La Mactan Resort and Spa on Sept. 7.

Aslanta said the association expects about 400 owners and executives of tourism companies from several Asian countries to come to Cebu for the event.

"It's a very good way to promote Cebu," she said. "Some governments even pay for family tours just to promote their place, but with this event it's the delegates who will be paying.”

This will be the second time for Cebu to host the event. The first was in 1995.

Jenny Franco, National Association of Independent Travel Agencies-Cebu (NAITAS) chairman, said they are preparing for the event this early

“We will also be coming up with special tour packages and we'll try to capitalize on our ecotours,” Franco added.

Lim said they are getting a lot of support from the Department of Tourism and the provincial and city governments.

Aslantas, who is also proposing for a repositioning of SKAL, said that Cebu can capitalize on its “virgin land with pristine waters and beautiful landscape.” She said Cebu has "very high tourist market potential" as tourists are tired of the usual modern ambiance.

The tourism congress will also serve as a venue for SKAL-Cebu members to interact with chapter members from other Asian countries and form networks, and attract more members as th Cebu chapter "has only 34 members at present."

The congress will be held from May 27 to 30, 2010 at Shangri-la's Mactan Island Resort and Spa. One of the agenda is Aslantas' proposal for "repositioning."

“We'll need a common understanding of what we are as an organization," Aslantas said. "We have to know who we are, and what we want to become thus we need to have a new mission and vision statements.”

SKAL was founded in 1934 by executives from tourism and travel companies in Paris. It was formed as an organization based on amicale and friendship.

“Members are not allowed to talk business, but that was wrong since in 1980s the organization suffered decrease in membership because people began to realize that friendship is not enough. We need to see the bigger picture. We need to realize that we are unique, the only one of its kind in the world, so why not use this to become profitable as tourism professionals all together,” Aslantas explained.

Franco said the idea is a positive step for SKAL members.

“We were allowed to talk about business only three years ago here in Cebu because that was not allowed before. I mean it's only natural for us members and businessmen to talk business and try to see how we can complement each other's business,” she added.

Survey questionnaires were already sent to each member just to know each one's understanding of SKAL.

“From there we can formulate mission and vision statements and then action plans,” Aslantas said. (Inquirer)

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