06/17/10 - TOURISM and tour operators in Cebu are not worried the bus accident that killed 21 foreigners over the weekend will affect the year-round group travel on the island.
Former Tourism regional director Patria Aurora Roa said the accident was unfortunate, but it was an isolated incident. He said J and D Tours is not accredited by the Department of Tourism (DOT) and the company does not cater to tourists who tour the island.
“We are very strict in accrediting tour companies to ensure that the vehicles are safe and clean,” Roa told the BusinessMirror.
Twenty one, mostly Iranian nationals, were killed when their tourist bus fell off a 30-meter ravine along the Cebu transcentral highway, the main east-west corridor between Cebu City and Balamban town.
The victims were mostly medical and allied students in Cebu and were out for a beach outing in Tuburan town, in northwestern Cebu.
Jenny Franco, chairperson of the Cebu chapter of the National Association of Independent Travel Agencies, a group of travel operators handling group tours, said it has been a big no-no for them to bring buses up the tricky Cebu transcentral highway.
“We do not bring buses to the trans-central highway. We only bring vans there because of the tricky road,” Franco said.
She said there were no reports of cancelations of group tours among travel operators and scheduled group trips go on as scheduled as of Tuesday morning.
She said there had never been a serious accident involving DOT-accredited bus, coasters, vans or cars in Cebu, owing to the high standard the industry is living up to.
“Accidents happen. There are also accidents that happen in other places in the world,” Franco said. “What is important is we ensure that we have done everything to prevent accidents from happening again.”
The transcentral highway is the 50-kilometer main east-west corridor connecting Cebu City and the industrial towns of Balamban and Toledo City.
It was built on the ridges of the central Cebu watershed area and is known for its zigzagging roads and high ravines.
Thick fog is known to cover the two-lane highway, especially in the early morning, while repairs on the road’s often damaged carriageway and eroding shoulders go on all-year round.
Middle Eastern students have grown in number in Cebu in the last two years, taking medical and allied courses in different colleges and universities here. The quality of education along with affordable costs as well as provisions for distance learning have made the city popular to international students. (businessmirror)