Digital, community tourism launched in Boljoon

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Monday, April 28, 2014


WITH neighboring towns in the south already attracting both local and foreign tourists, the municipality of Boljoon is envisioning to follow their trail with the launching over the weekend of a twin tourism project.

In a press conference on Saturday, the local government of Boljoon announced that its tourism has gone “digital.”

The Digital Tourism program of Smart Communications Inc. and Cebu-based startup InnoPub Media will provide information about Boljoon and its heritage sites on mobile platforms.

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Under the digital tourism program, the mobile application Boljoon Guide has been made at the Google Play Store for Android devices and Windows Store for Windows Phone gadgets. Tourists can download the app for free into their mobile phones. It is also available as a mobile web guide for other platforms.

Guide

InnoPub Media co-founder Max T. Limpag said the app will provide tourists a comprehensive guide to the town. It contains information about Boljoon’s historical sites and structures, places to stay, and a directory of the town’s important phone numbers. (Disclosure: Limpag is the editor of this section.)

“With the guide, tourists will get a portable guide to Boljoon on their phones,” Limpag said.

Also part of the digital tourism program, said Limpag, is the deployment of interactive tourism markers in the town center that contain a quick response code or QR code and near-field communications or NFC stickers.

When scanned or tapped with a phone or tablet, the markers trigger the download of more information about a site or structure.

With such upgrade on Boljoon’s tourism, Boljoon Mayor Merlou Derama expressed optimism that this will draw in tourists in the town and subsequently open livelihood opportunities to residents.

Derama said they have partnered with Grassroots Travel of Boboi Costas for its community tourism project. They tapped local volunteers in mapping cultural, historical, and nature tourism resources in the town.

“This (community-tourism project) is an asset-based development. We taught the community members that all they need was a paradigm shift; that they don’t need to look far and invest heavily on money to join the tourism industry. The resources needed for tourism development are right at their doorstep: heritage, history and having a pride of place,” said Costas in a statement.

Boljoon formed the Asbomakk or Asosasyon sa mga Boljoanong Magpalambo sa Kulturang Kabilin, a newly-formed organization that will be one of the frontrunners of the town’s tourism. Asbomakk has 42 members, majority of which are women.

Ronald Villanueva, Boljoon tourism officer, detailed the difficulty of the local government to attract tourists in the town despite it being hailed as “Cebu’s postcard town” where tall mountains and crystal clear seas greet passers-by.

“For 400 years nga naa ang Boljoon, wala namo na-capitalize among tourism sites,” Villanueva shared.

Boljoon, Villanueva said, is very rich in culture and history. One of its heritage sites is the El Gran Baluarte which was built by Fray Julian Bermejo in 1808 and served as the main fortress on the church complex’ fortification.

Livelihood

He said that although they have attracted students from Cebu and neighboring provinces to visit Boljoon for educational tours, they are still hoping to attract different tourist markets since this would mean livelihood to its residents.

At present, the main source of livelihood in Boljoon is agriculture and fishing.

Cebu Provincial Information Officer Ethel Natera said that to encourage tourists to stay in Boljoon, they will help develop a home-staying program in the town.

Costas said package tours have been considered for the the town.

Cebu Provincial Tourism Officer Mary Grace Paulino said Boljoon will be developing a new tourism site, a falls, to add to its list of natural attractions.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on April 29, 2014.

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