The Russian provincial government of St. Petersburg will promote Cebu as a tourist destination, announced St. Petersburg vice governor Igor Metelsky last Thursday during his keynote speech for the opening of the 2nd Philippine-Russian Business Forum and Exhibition held at the Cebu International Convention Center (CICC) in Mandaue City.
“We are ready to promote Cebu as a tourist destination in St. Petersburg,” said Metelsky in Russian.
The move is targeted to strengthen the sisterhood partnership St. Petersburg recently forged with the province of Cebu last September. Cebu is the only sister province of St. Petersburg in the Philippines. The partnership is aimed at establishing cooperation in developing trade, culture, and education in both provinces.
“In the future, we’re looking at having direct flights from St. Petersburg to Cebu,” said Metelsky.
Department of Tourism (DOT) secretary Alberto Lim, who graced the event, welcomed the good news saying that it will further push Russia as an emerging tourist market for the Philippines.
Lim said that from 2006 to 2009, tourist arrivals from Russia posted an average growth of 53 percent, which is expected to increase with the bullish marketing efforts of DOT in Russia plus the promise of tourism promotion of Cebu by St. Petersburg.
Moreover, Metelsky is also expecting Cebu to promote St. Petersburg to the Philippines.
“Our cities are tourism centers, which should bring us closer,” noted Metelsky saying that Cebu will also benefit from the tourism and transportation infrastructure projects currently being done in St. Petersburg.
He also said that their government is also laying down the ground to have a levelled playing field for foreign direct investors.
Cebu governor Gwendolyn Garcia, on the other hand, is confident on the commitments made by the Russian vice governor saying that it is a signal for both countries to make a genuine impact on the lives of their own people.
The 2nd Philippine-Russian Business Forum is organized by the Philippine Business Assembly Inc. and the Embassy of the Russian Federation in cooperation with the Province of Cebu and the Department of Tourism.
The Philippine Exhibits and Themeparks Corp. is co-organizing the event in association with the City of Mandaue, Department of Trade and Industry, Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Cebu Business Club, Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Cebu FAME, Cebu Furniture Industries Foundation and the Cebu Gifts, Toys, and Housewares (GTH).