Apart from the airport, today the island is known for its industrial factories, which are some of the most successful industrial ventures in the Philippines. Many of them are located at the Mactan Export Processing Zone (MEPZ), an industrial tax-free zone opened in 1979 that includes over 35 business ventures, about 50 percent of which are Japanese-owned.
Also important to the island is its high-class tourism industry and the production of furniture, as well as guitars, ukuleles and other musical instruments.
With many beautiful islands, white sand beaches, luxury hotel and resorts, diving locations and heritage sites, high domestic and foreign tourist arrivals have fueled the tourism industry of Cebu. Cebu consistently gets a big share of tourist arrivals in the Philippines, and has become the tourist gateway to Central and Southern Philippines due to its central geographic location, accessibility and natural resources. The province also hosts various national and international conferences every year.
About 80% of domestic and international shipping operators and shipbuilders in the Philippines are located in Cebu. Shipbuilding companies in Cebu have manufactured bulk carriers of up to 70,000 tones deadweight and double-hulled fast craft as well. Cebu’s industry helps make the Philippines the 5th largest shipbuilding country in the world.
Cebu’s extensive port facilities and its proximity to intra-Asian shipping and air routes are major factors which led multinational companies to establish offices or factories on the main island, as well as in the island of Mactan, where they are clustered in special economic zones known as the Mactan Economic Processing Zone 1 (MEPZ-1) and the Mactan Economic Processing Zone 2 (MEPZ-2). Due to its burgeoning furniture-making industry, Cebu has been named as the furniture capital of the Philippines. Cebu’s other exports include: fashion accessories, guitars, coconut, coconut oil, dried mangoes, carrageenan, gifts, toys, watches, cameras, electronic components and housewares.
With a revenue growth rate of 18.8 percent in 2012, the real estate industry is the fastest-growing sector in Cebu. With the strong economic indicators and high investors’ confidence level, more condominium projects and hypermarkets are being developed in the locality. An additional 100 commercial and residential buildings would be completed by 2015 and another 170 to 200 buildings are expected to be finished by 2017. 64 new hypermarkets will be developed in Cebu.
In 2013, Cebu ranked 8th worldwide in the “Top 100 BPO Destinations Report” by global advisory firm, Tholons. The Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry, an organization of Cebu’s businesses, is promoting the city’s growth and economy on information and communications technology, with the aim of making Cebu the premier ICT, software and e-services investment destination in southeast Asia. Data gathered by the National Economic Development Authority (Neda) 7 showed that of the 98 BPO and IT companies operating in Cebu, 32 offer voice operations while 66 companies offer non-voice operations. Of the 95,000 employed by the industry, more than half or 50,000 are in the non-voice sector. In 2012, the growth in IT-BPO revenues in Cebu grew 26.9 percent at $484 million, while nationally; the industry grew 18.2 percent at $13 billion.
Cebu even boasts being a subsidiary of one of the leading ice rink manufacturers in the world. These rinks are engineered and fabricated in Cebu by Ice Rink Supply and shipped worldwide.