THE one-day trip some seven or eight years ago was memorable.

The sights our group visited---the Loboc River, the man-made forest and the Chocolate Hills---together with a view of the tarsiers, were simply amazing. I did not notice anything remarkable about the facilities and infrastructure then as the province was perhaps just waking up to its tourism potential.

It was the sheer beauty of the places we visited that carried the day for us.

The other day, my wife and I went to Bohol with balikbayan relatives and this time I was in awe at the transformation of Bohol as a tourist destination. It was also a one-day trip because my guests didn’t want to miss the early morning novena mass. In addition, therefore, to the Loboc River Cruise and a view of the tarsiers, the man-made forest, and the Chocolate Hills, we could only visit the churches of Baclayon and Dauis.

Click here for stories and updates on the Sinulog 2010 Festival.

We were impressed this time not just by the unique beauty of the places we visited but by the professionalism of the tourist-industry people, the world-class facilities and the excellent road network. It was a first for my sister’s family and it was simply impressive for them. It was our second trip for me and my cousin from Australia in a fairly long time and we were amazed at the quantum leap in the improvement of facilities.

The cleanliness of the places we visited was truly remarkable. I didn’t see any exposed pile of uncollected garbage anywhere we went. I didn’t even see plastic littering the roadside, something that would be a normal ugly sight in as the streets of the cities of Mandaue, Lapu-Lapu, Talisay and Cebu.

The tourist attractions are mostly God-given and historical heritages that cannot be credited to the natives. However, in the excellent facilities and infrastructure one can easily see the unified vision and the political will of the local governments to make Bohol a premiere tourist destination.

Judging from the number of tourist vans and buses in the places we visited, I could not help wondering if Cebu has not become a Bohol stopover to be bypassed altogether when the Bohol international airport is completed.

Bohol is doing something right about tourism. It is truly focused on developing this potential and doing it with a level of excellence that is rare in government circles. It does not have a tourism spectacle like the Sinulog, the short duration of which enables visitors to tolerate the inadequacies of Metro Cebu’s tourism facilities and infrastructure, but it has a good thing going that delights tourists the whole year round.

Of course, this was a day-trip’s worth of observations. But within this time parameter, it was a remarkable experience that left us wanting to go back for more.