Bohol receives tourism recovery roadmap

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Sunday, May 18, 2014


CEBU -- Bohol has received its tourism recovery roadmap from the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), seven months after the province was hit by a 7.2 magnitude earthquake.

UNWTO Secretary General Dr. Taleb Rifai led the turnover ceremony with Bohol Governor Edgar Chatto, local tourism industry players and local and national tourism officials in Panglao, Bohol last Friday.

The Bohol Tourism Recovery Plan is a collaborative project of the UNWTO, Department of Tourism (DOT), United States Agency for International Development under its Advancing Philippine Competitiveness Project (USAID Compete) and Pacific Asia Travel Association.

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It was developed following a series of fact-finding missions and extensive research over a five-month period. It aims to help the province recover from last October 15’s earthquake.

Aims

DOT said the recovery roadmap contains strategies to market the province to the global community, as well as develop new tourism products that will strengthen Bohol’s position as an eco-cultural destination.

Cherilyn Rodolfo, head of USAID Compete Project for Tourism, said the overall strategy is to remove the residual fears of tourists about Bohol. 

The recovery roadmap aims to promote and develop tourism activities that will expand income streams in the tourism supply chain, rebuild communities and livelihood, and increase resiliency among tourism enterprises and the communities.

She noted that four communities in Bohol, which are tourism-dependent, lost $300,000 per month right after the calamity. 

Among the salient features of the recovery roadmap is the proposed zone development of tourism sites, she said. 

Rodolfo said the objective of zone development is to encourage tourists to stay longer.

The plan also outlined strategies to market Bohol abroad, such as tapping social media platforms and getting national and international media coverage.

Also included in the roadmap is to train Bohol’s tourism workforce so they will be globally competitive.

Bringing them back

“The action plan did not solely focus on the infrastructure recovery but also on the reconstruction of image and perception, which aims to bring back more local and international tourists. The roadmap also aims to further expand the tourism base of Bohol,” Rifai said.

He described the recovery plan as “innovative” in that it aims not only to reconstruct the infrastructure that was damaged but make the infrastructure development in Bohol better and sustainable.

“The recovery plan was all about restoring hope and confidence. It is not only about bringing things back the way they were but turning tragedies into opportunities, making growth more sustainable,” he said.

The secretary general toured four tourism sites in Bohol that were badly damaged by the earthquake: tarsier sanctuary in Corella, Loboc River, the Loboc and Alburquerque churches and the Punta Cruz watchtower in Maribojoc.

Rifai said the industry should take care of its local community because this is what makes tourism in Bohol special.

Commitment

“Your people are your greatest asset,” he said. Rifai said he was delighted that the local government recognizes tourism as a leading economic driver.

“Tourism is part of the recovery because it is the industry of hope. It is the industry that connects all of us,” he said.

USAID acting mission director Reed Aeschliman said the turnover of the recovery roadmap is a “very important” milestone for the country’s tourism industry.

“Bohol has always been one of the top tourism destinations and we in USAID believe that by helping Bohol’s tourism industry recover from the aftermath of the earthquake and Yolanda, we help the whole country towards achieving economic growth,” he said.

Aeschliman said they will continue to help Bohol address issues on power and water supply through the USAID Compete project.

He added that they are eyeing a bulk water supply sanitation project that can benefit 22 municipalities.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on May 18, 2014.

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