WITH the recent announcement of a Cebu–Dubai direct link, local tourism industry players are getting ready for the expected influx of tourists from Middle Eastern countries.

Tour operator Alice Queblatin said seminars, forums and briefings have already been conducted to better prepare the tourism sector to provide halal-certified food and accommodate any special requirements by the Middle Eastern tourists.

“We are doing an intensive understanding of their food, idiosyncrasies and lifestyle so that the resorts will know how to deal with the families. Direct connectivity (to the Middle East) is going to be a plus for Cebu,” she said.

Several restaurants in the province are already serving halal-certified food, Queblatin said.

The Department of Tourism (DOT) has also piloted a project that will help tourism establishments achieve halal certification.

Crimson Resort and Spa, highlighted as one of the preferred accommodations by travelers from the Middle East because of its private villas, is one of the 10 hotels in Cebu province selected as pilot establishments.

Other establishments are Cebu City Marriott Hotel, Cebu Parklane Hotel, Costabella Tropical Beach Resort, Marco Polo Hotel, Maribago Bluewater Beach Resort, Movenpick, Radisson Blu Cebu, Shangri-la Mactan Resort and Spa, and Waterfront Cebu Hotel and Casino.

Emirates Airlines of the UAE will launch daily Dubai–Cebu–Clark flights starting March 30 this year.

The flights will be serviced by a Boeing 777-300ER, and will have a seating capacity of 42 seats for business class and 386 seats in economy class.

In a statement, Thierry Antinori, executive vice president and chief commercial officer of Emirates, said in a statement that the carrier will “help enhance the Philippine’s trade links with the rest of the world and boost incoming tourism to Philippines, supporting the DOT’s “Visit the Philippines Again 2016” campaign.

The new route also heralds Emirates’ reentry into Clark after its first entry in 2013.

An underlying benefit in opening the new route anticipated by the official is the possible reentry of Qatar Airways. The carrier stopped servicing Cebu–Doha flights in 2009.