CEBU CITY -- Next time Cebu hosts a major event like the Ironman 70.3, Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama suggested informing local governments at least six months ahead of the big day.
That way, he said, City Hall can do its share by, among others, paving roads.
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Talisay City Vice Mayor Alan Bucao, in a separate interview, recommended informing more towns in the south the next time the South Coastal Road has to be closed.
While both officials welcomed the international event’s being held in Cebu, they said some fine-tuning will make future events even smoother.
About 1,700 people from 31 countries registered for last Sunday’s Half-Ironman. Despite the inconveniences like the traffic caused by road closures, it was a tremendous boost for tourism in Cebu, said Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia.
On the radar
“Now, they will look at Cebu as a possible, ideal venue for other international sporting events,” said Garcia, who cited many visitors’ assessment of the event as a success.
“I am not the one saying it, it’s the triathletes themselves that have said it,” she added.
On social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, the reviews were generally positive, but there were some -- including one of the elite Filipina competitors -- who said the uneven roads in some areas were dangerous, especially to new cyclists.
Mayor Rama, in an interview, said earlier notification would have helped local governments do their share better, like paving the roads.
Still, he commended the organizers for their management of the event, and the general public for their patience.
“Events like that cause a chain reaction. A lot of visitors came here, they stayed in our hotels. Aha man diay sila mamalit ug mokaon but sa atong mga establishments (Of course, they have to eat in local establishments). Events like that serve as an economic engine and catalyst,” he said.
Camarines Sur, which hosted the Ironman 70.3 in the last three years, overtook Cebu as the top tourist destination (measured in arrivals) in the country last year.
But while they welcomed the event’s potential windfall, local officials pointed to some fine-tuning needed.
Vice Mayor Bucao said that Talisay’s officials heard a lot of complaints from motorists about last Sunday’s extra heavy traffic.
Bucao chairs the City of Talisay Traffic Operations and Development Authority (CT-TODA). He said most of their complaints came from motorists living outside Talisay City.
Organizers of the race, he said, should have considered extending their information campaign to other towns in Southern Cebu, whose residents use the Cebu South Coastal Road to get to Cebu City.
“Ang sayop sa ilaha kay kutob ra sa Talisay City ang ilang information dissemination (They ended their information campaign in Talisay City),” Bucao said.
Considering that the road was closed for half a day, the N. Bacalso National Highway was really congested, he said.
Another flaw he noticed was that some of the crowds crossed the bike course even if the race was still on.
“Dili gyud nato malikayan nga daghan badlongon nga magpa-ugat sa dalan (I suppose it can’t be held that there are those who make a nuisance of themselves on the road),” Bucao said.
Most of the complaints he received mostly occurred in Barangay San Roque and Tanke.
Yet despite the complaints, Bucao said, he agreed that the race was highly successful and something to be proud of.
Talisay City Police Chief Superintendent Eddie Recamara said it was generally peaceful during last Sunday’s race.
The race’s bike leg brought competitors from the Shangri-la resort in Mactan, up the Marcelo Fernan Bridge and through the Mandaue Reclamation Area to the South Coastal Road, all the way to Talisay City.
Apart from N. Bacalso, another traffic chokepoint during the race was U.N. Ave. in Mandaue City, leading to the Marcelo Fernan Bridge. It was the only open route for those who had to get to the airport or other parts of Lapu-Lapu City last Sunday. (JKV/PDF/FMG of Sun.Star Cebu)