BOHOL is bracing for an influx of tourists with the introduction of its three new clustered tour programs, which are aimed to spur tourism growth in the countryside, an official from the Department of Tourism (DOT) 7 said.
DOT 7 Director Rowena Montecillo said tourism stakeholders in Bohol and Cebu are selling the three newly clustered tour programs, dubbed as the Bohol Surprise Tours, which cover new destinations like Anda, Tubigon, and Jagna, among others.
Unlike the existing countryside tour in Bohol, where tourists usually go sight-seeing, Montecillo noted that the Bohol Surprise Tours offer tourism from a different perspective, as these showcase the lives and livelihood of the locals.
“We want tourists to go beyond picture-taking and allow them to experience themselves the livelihood of the locals and other activities in the area,” said Montecillo.
The Bohol Surprise Tours were developed through the collaboration of the Provincial Government of Bohol, Bohol Tourism Office, Sustainable Environment Protection Program (Sepp) and Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica).
The program was created out of the need to introduce new tourism products in Bohol, after some of the century-old churches—among Bohol’s most popular tourism attractions—turned to rubble after a 7.2 magnitude earthquake hit the province in October 2013.
“The Bohol Surprise Tours were also mounted to bring more tourists to the other parts of Bohol not yet reached by the current countryside tour offering,” Montecillo said.
Anda, a small peninsula in the eastern tip of Bohol facing Mindanao, is considered one of Bohol’s emerging leisure destinations because of its long strip of powdery white sand beach. This fifth-class municipality is 99 kilometers away from Tagbilaran City.
According to Montecillo, the town is now a must-go destination as road and infrastructure access to Anda are underway through the convergence program of the DOT and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), which seeks to connect airports to tourism destinations. Anda is also home to the Lamanoc Mystical Island that is fast becoming a popular destination.
The Bohol Surprise Tours also cover the town of Tubigon, which is popularly known for its rich loom-weaving industry. Tourists, according to Montecillo, can watch and learn raffia loom-weaving from the local weavers. In Jagna, another featured destination, guests can experience how Bohol’s popular calamay delicacy is made.
The launching of the Bohol Surprise Tours coincides with Visit Philippines Year 2015.
Bohol Gov. Edgar Chatto was quoted as saying, “We want to develop Bohol as the tourism superpower and a top holiday destination in the Philippines” during the Visit Bohol 2015 Fair in Manila last December.
“We don’t really have a specific market in mind for these new tour packages. We want tourists from all over the globe to experience this new offering,” said Montecillo.
She added the Bohol Surprise Tours are also an ideal getaway for tourists this Holy Week.
Bohol’s current top source of foreign visitors is China. Last year, the province logged 438,908 total arrivals, according to the initial reports of the DOT 7.