By Minerva BC Newman
Cebu City — The Province of Cebu has signed agreements with Fujian province and Shanghai in China for exploring investment and trade, cultural-educational exchanges and tourism opportunities.
Cebu Investments and Promotions Office (CIPO) officer-in-charge Floreza Alpuerto said based on the study by CIPO, China ranked fourth in tourist arrivals with 187,335 Chinese visiting Cebu in 2016.
Alpuerto said Cebu is moving up as a tourist destination. Travel+Leisure magazine named the province as the second friendliest island, and it was included in the Conde Nast Travel’s Reader’s Awards in 2017 as among the top three best islands in the world.
The agreements indicate that the Chinese are also beginning to recognize Cebu’s potential as an investment and trade destination, Alpuerto said.
Last week officials of Fujian province and Cebu met at the capitol to discuss the details of the sisterhood agreement between them, which includes three cultural-exchange opportunities including the Fujian ASEAN government officials/International Friendship State and Province Liaison Officers Seminar.
Alpuerto said the Fujian government invited Cebu to send two representatives for 15 days in April or May to the seminar and for site visits.
Fujian is also offering a scholarship program for students from Cebu to do graduate and post-graduate studies on Chinese Language and culture classes in Fujian.
For June or July, Fujian is also proposing cultural exchanges for the youth and other sectors, like the media, Alpuerto said.
This September, Cebu Governor Hilario Davide III is will fly to Fujian for the signing of the Memorandum of Agreement which will coincide with the China International Fair for Investment and Trade (CIFIT) in Xiamen, China.
The Fujian officials who visited the capitol visit were Chen Chuxin, vice president for the Fujian People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries; Cai Wenzhi, deputy director for the International Exchanges Division of the Foreign Affairs Office; James Jiang of the International Exchange Division of Fujian’s Foreign Affairs Office; Zheng Zhi Liang, deputy director for the Quanzhou Municipal Foreign Affairs & Overseas Chinese Affairs Office; and Jin Teng Xu, associate consultant for the Foreign and Overseas Chinese Affairs Office of Putian Municipal Government.
A top official of an international trade body of Shanghai, China believes that strengthening the ties between the Philippines and China will benefit Cebu’s tourism industry.
Yang Jianrong, head of the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, said Chinese tourists spend more during their travel abroad compared to other nationals and choosing Cebu as their destination will be a big boost to the economic growth of the island.
Yang led the Chinese delegation that visited the capitol last week where it invited Cebu’s business and provincial executives to join the China International Import Expo in November and the Belt and Road Brand Expo in June and July.
“I see the charm of the landscape here in Cebu, and you can present the tourist attractions here during the Belt and Road Brand Expo,” Yang said through an interpreter.
Yang said he expects that two to three years on there will be more Chinese from Shanghai coming to Cebu and from elsewhere in China.
According to Alpuerto, Yang said Chinese President Xi Jinping endorsed the two major international trade fairs, saying that China wants to share the country’s gains and reforms by opening its market wider to the world.
The meeting also resulted in the setting up of a communication channel to further enhance collaboration between Shanghai and Cebu in trade and investment, she added.
Present at the meeting were Bonifer Nacorda of the Human Resource Office, Rodel Bontuyan of the Provincial Planning and Development Office, and leaders of the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry.