TAGBILARAN CITY, Philippines – The province of Bohol officially launched Visit Bohol 2015, a year-round campaign that aims to revitalize the province’s tourism a year after it was hit by a powerful earthquake.
The launch on Tuesday, November 4, concided with the celebration of the 118th birth anniversary of President Carlos P. Garcia, Bohol’s “Most Illustrious Son.”
In a speech, Bohol Governor Edgar Chatto said they are “optimistic that these new strategies would spur growth in [Bohol’s] tourism industry, especially as [they] benefit from the considerable share of tourist influx next year and beyond.”
He added that through this campaign, Bohol “will be known not only as a ‘must visit’ island destination, but also be included in the ‘must return’ list among travelers.”
The tourism campaign is made possible through the initiatives of the United States Agency for International Development through its Advancing Philippine Competitiveness Project (USAID-COMPETE), the Department of Tourism (DOT), the United Nations-World Tourism Organization (UN-WTO), the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), and the tourism stakeholders.
During the launch at the Bohol Cultural Center, the provincial government of Bohol also signed a memorandum of agreement with AirAsia to help push the province’s Tourism Action Plan.
“AirAsia was established with the dream of making flying possible for everyone. Now, we seek to take Bohol to new heights and make it rise again as among the premiere tourism destination not only in the Philippines but in Asia and beyond,” said the airline’s chief executive officer, Joy Cañeba.
“At AirAsia, we take pride of our collaborative nature and together with our partners from LGUs, USAID-COMPETE and the private sector, Visit Bohol 2015 campaign will enable everyone to fly to Bohol,” she added.
Cañeba said of the agreement: “It essentially just says that AirAsia will support the province of Bohol in ensuring that there will be low fares, ensuring exposure on tourism of Bohol, in terms of joint marketing efforts as well as making Bohol accessible by offering low fares to the public. In return, the province of Bohol will ensure that passengers are well taken cared of here.”
Tourism Assistant Secretary Benito Bengzon Jr witnessed the signing of the agreement.
This is the first time that the airline partnered with a provincial government to promote tourism. Cañeba however mentioned that this partnership is “not exclusive” and that AirAsia is open to have the same partnership with other local governments in the country, mentioning Dumaguete, Davao, Palawan, among others.
“We are all Filipinos. If we can have the entire Philippines to be known outside, have more traffic coming in, then that’s good,” she said.
But how about the airport?
In an interview with Rappler, Bohol Provincial Tourism Officer Josephine Cabarrus said that the focus of the tourism campaign is to market Bohol as an eco-tourism destination in the country.
“Of course, to do that, we would be developing products that would appeal to the market. We want a development that would be sustainable, and then economics,” she said.
When asked how prepared Bohol is in terms of infrasturcture since the 7.2-magnitude earthquake that hit the province in 2013, Cabarrus said: “In terms of infrastructure for the tourism industry, commercial establishments and all that, we are ready for that.”
However, she acknowledged that their airport is still not as ready.
“Ang hindi lang namin ready is ‘yung airport (What is not ready is the airport), the transportation and access coming in. For instance, our airport is too small, there’s the sunset limitation which limits the number of flights per day.”
Visit Bohol 2015 complements the Visit Philippines 2015 or VPY2015 program recently launched by the Department of Tourism. This tourism campaign aims to largely contribute to the agency’s target of 10 million international tourists and 56 million local travelers by 2016.
Watch this video that will give you a sneak peak into the many wonders of the province of Bohol:
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