US-based travel guide calls Cebu 19th best place to travel in 2023

CEBU has been named as one of the 50 Best Places to Travel in 2023 by US-based travel guide Travel Lemming.

Cebu places 19th, the only destination in the Philippines to make it to the list.

Cebu is also one of only five destinations in Asia that make it to the list, the others being Bhutan, which ranks second; Uzbekistan, ninth; Xiaoliuqiu, Taiwan, 29th; and Chiang Rai, Thailand, 34th.

Travel Lemming cited Cebu for its island adventures, saying: “Visitors can swim with whale sharks, go canyoneering down cascading waterfalls... and so much more.”

“Perfect for all types of tourists, Cebu allows you to indulge in both thrilling experiences and waterfront relaxation. If you seek the latter, set your sights on Moalboal, Camotes and Bantayan Islands, all known for their scenic white-sand beaches,” the online travel guide said.

It specifically cited Oslob, Bantayan Island and Kawasan Falls as “places to visit,” saying December to May is the best time to visit.

Bantayan Island in the extreme northwest of Cebu hosts three towns: Bantayan, Madridejos and Santa Fe.

Placing first on the 50 Best Places to Travel in 2023 list is Lafayette, Louisiana; followed by Bhutan; Utila, Honduras; Île Sainte-Marie, Madagascar; and Kosovo.

The destinations placing sixth to tenth are Salento, Colombia; Vanuatu; Lake Ohrid, North Macedonia; Uzbekistan and Detroit, Michigan.

The list is dominated by the United States, which accounted for 20 of the 50 best places to visit, followed by Europe, seven places to visit; North America, six places; Asia, five places; Africa, Oceania and South America, having four best places each to visit.

Reacting to the development Thursday, Bantayan Mayor Arthur Despi expressed hope that the flow of local and international tourists would return to normal in order to help the economy recover from the Covid-19 pandemic that has pummeled global travel.

Despi said only a few tourists so far had visited the town this year amid the easing of Covid-19 restrictions in the country and that the visitor numbers are still far down from pre-pandemic levels.

He said local tourists were the most common visitors to Bantayan.

“Of course, our locals, because they compare our destination to Boracay (in Western Visayas). If they go to Boracay, how much would they pay? So they decide to come to Bantayan instead because it’s nearer, costs less and is faster to reach.”

Despi said tourists usually visited towards the weekend, starting from Wednesday to Sunday.

In the first eight months of this year, Cebu Province, where the places Travel Lemming specified as places to visit are located, welcomed 11,453 foreign arrivals, with Daanbantayan the top destination, 3,779 foreign tourists, followed by Danao City (2,147), Oslob (1,773) and Santa Fe in the Bantayan Islands (1,421), according to the Department of Tourism.

The tri-cities drew more foreign tourists over the same period: 64,240 in Cebu City, 66,065 in Lapu-Lapu City and 20,741 for Mandaue City.

It was only on Feb. 10, 2022, or nearly two years after the pandemic was declared, that the Philippines reopened its borders to foreign tourists. (CTL, MKG)