Bohol tourism is back
Bohol’s tourism industry has started to pick up more than two weeks after suffering a slowdown when the devastating 7.2-magnitude earthquake destroyed houses and major infrastructure including roads and bridges in the province.
Bookings for day tours are increasing daily especially after the Loboc River Cruise reopened, said Peter Dejaresco in a phone interview last week.
“We have seen arrivals, which actually started middle after the first week since the earthquake hit. We expect this to go back to normal levels by mid of November,” said Dejaresco.
By December, we expect last week’s canceled overnight reservations to be re-booked, he said.
Tour operators in Bohol are also getting inquiries and requests from tourists to visit the fault lines aside from the standard tarsier-river cruise-Chocolate Hills route.
“We’re getting a lot of that from those who love adventure and even the ruined churches. Some tourist consider it a privilege to be able to see the ruins now,” he said.
Stakeholders met last Friday to discuss putting up a tour package that would include the fault line.
However, tour and travel operators want to be familiar with the new routes first before they will start offering it to their clients.
Alice Queblatin, owner of Southwind Travel and Tours, said she sent five of her staff to Bohol last Wednesday to do a familiarization tour of the new route and conduct an ocular inspection of the products to ensure the safety of tourists visiting Bohol after the devastation brought by the earthquake.
“They are in Bohol now and will be back in Cebu tonight (Wednesday) so that we can discuss and redesign the packages that we offer for the Bohol day trip,” Queblatin, who is also Tourism Congress vice president for travel and tours-Visayas, told Cebu Daily News.
She said that with the new routes, they have to draw up new timetables for the ferrying of guests to Bohol, allot time for the visitors’ enjoyment of the tours and bring them back to Cebu on time.
She said that the three main components of the Bohol tour are still there, which is the river cruise, tarsier, and Chocolate Hills.
“We got a lot of calls already since last week, but we have to decline because we have to make sure first and experience it ourselves before we can sell it again,” she said.
fault line visits
She added that they also get requests to include the fault line in the package but they will have to see firsthand how safe it is.
“We cannot just include something and not be certain that it’s safe. We also handle insurance so we really need to be careful with our packages.”
She encouraged other tour operators to do the same: know the changes and make adjustments to their packages to ensure that the tourists get the same experience as before the earthquake.
“Bohol is our top selling package and we have to do this right. Otherwise, we will lose tourists,” she said.
Queblatin through her company Southwind Travel and Tours handles the tourism desk of major hotels in Cebu.
The Department of Tourism headed by Secretary Ramon Jimenez, Jr. has been very aggressive in reinventing tourism in Bohol which is the main economic driver of the province.
Last Thursday, the Loboc River Cruise, an important part of the day tour package in Bohol, reopened.
They expect day tours to recover first with the overnight stays following, said DOT Regional Director Rowena Montecillo,
“People only need to see that it is already safe to come back here. The slowdown is expected because people will look at the safety first. In a couple of weeks, we expect to see the day tourists come back,” said Montecillo.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.