Two sectors have helped jumpstart the recovery of Cebu economy in 2022, said Mr. Charles Kenneth Co, president of the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI).
“Although 2022 is still challenging because of the Ukraine war and as you know, inflation is one of the headwinds we’re facing but we have sectors that we are very proud of like BPO (business process outsourcing) that have proven to be very resilient,” Mr. Co said during the CCCI yearend press conference. “The outlook for next year is still optimistic.”
He cited as an example Qualfon, full-service business process outsourcing (BPO) company, have grown their headcount in their Cebu facility by 40 to 60 percent this year.
Mr. Co cited the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) as saying that the BPO sector brings in $4-million in direct revenues and another $4-million in expenses or a total of $8-billion coming to Cebu. Tourism is also starting to come back, he added.
Close to one million or 962,418 tourists visited Cebu in the first half of 2022, disclosed Undersecretary Shalimar Tamano, also the concurrent regional director of the Department of Tourism. Of this number 839,315 are domestic tourists while the remaining 73,103 are foreign visitors. He expects the number of foreign tourists to increase to 300,000 by the end of 2022.
JP Chiongbian, chairperson for Cebu Business Mobilization, said they initially thought it would be a slow uphill climb for the restaurant industry in the next three years but it experienced a surge in spending. He also noted a resurgence of online businesses going on-site at Sugbo Mercado.
“We’re going to enter 2023 with looming headwinds,” said Mr. Jay Yuvallos, CCCI vice president for business development, adding, however, that Cebu businesses are resilient.
“We want to cultivate that kind of spirit. The challenge is how we in the business community together with our stakeholders, the media, government are active in pursuing alignment. Because if we are united, we are aligned, we can be stronger together,” Mr. Yuvallos said.
“If we are united, we can surmount these challenges and even have stronger foundation together,” he added.
During Mr. Co’s term as Cebu Chamber president that started early this year, the chamber identified three key leadership agenda. These are Business Revival, Recovery, Resilience and Continuity in Cebu; Enabling ecosystem for business competitiveness; and Public- Private Partnership for SAFE and HEALTHY Cebu.
“These are carefully crafted to better respond to the needs of businesses through strategic interventions, programs and projects to our members, partners and other enablers in meaningful pursuits to address their pain points,” he explained.
Mr. Yuvallos disclosed that in 2022, the chamber achieved noteworthy milestones in business development for Cebu’s business community to advance its Leadership Agenda, which aimed to revive and recover from COVID, Odette, Omicron and other disruptions.
The chamber implemented the following strategies:
(1) Mustering Big Brothers/Buddies in the Business Community of Cebu to assist in the recovery (2) Leveraging government support, grants, and financial programs to revive, repurpose and strengthen MSMEs especially those in the Food Industry, Fish Industry, Tourism, Creative Entertainment and Design, ICT-BPM, eCommerce, Infrastructure, Ship Building, Manufacturing including start-up entrepreneurs
He explained that the chamber’s Business Development services focused on (1) Business Linkages, Trade and Investment promotions, (2) Upskilling of Current and Future Workforce, and (3) Projects that targeted special groups and specific industries deemed current and emerging economic drivers in Cebu.
Meanwhile, the chamber also offers a new service, the Cebu Business Mobilization or CBM, Mr. Chiongbian said.
“CBM is an integral component of the CCCI’s new externally-driven team services, and focuses on the needs of its members in the Cebu business community for opportunities that promote and enable innovation, entrepreneurship, creativity and digital transformation on the road to recovery, resilience and global competitiveness,” he explained.
According to Mr. Chiongbian, CCCI’s CBM engages key players as champions, resource sharers and sponsors to craft, mobilize and execute relevant game-changing activities, projects and programs.
CCCI’s CBM offers meaningful interactions and innovative opportunities that ignite optimism, partnerships, repurposed business models, and investment infusion throughout the year, he added.
Meanwhile, this year, the Cebu Chamber also has added 66 new members. Membership in the chamber provides business matching opportunities as well as networking avenues to build and nurture relationships within the general membership, Mr. Co said.
The total membership to 911 including 31 sectoral organizations, Mr. Co disclosed. Its members consist of 425 companies from Service, 207 from Industry, 184 from Trade and Commerce, and 64 from ICT/BPM.