Withstanding the Test of Time: PHILTOA in one with Bohol

The Chocolate Hills of Bohol Philippines

Recovery may be tough for the provinces that were gravely affected by last year’s typhoons and earthquakes, but difficulties can be surpassed when the spirit to move on is in place.

tourist attractions in bohol
Philippine Tarsier

Bohol was one of those municipalities that experienced this misfortune. Last October 2013, a 7.2-magnitude earthquake jolted some parts of Visayas and Mindanao, and left traces of disaster in the lives of the locals and the landscapes of the affected areas. Just like the rest of the areas in the region, Bohol’s tourism industry evidently suffered, as some of its historic landmarks and centuries-old churches were razed.

Despite these challenges, Bohol is coming back to its feet. The improvements in tourism were evident last summer, when tourists were once again found flocking in the island’s resorts. Meanwhile, Bohol’s agriculture industry, which is regarded as its major economic driver, is also booming.

“The progress in its tourism industry is expected, given that the province’s topography and location have lent the locals and tourists pristine coastlines, where some of Asia’s best beach resorts can be found,” shares the Philippine Tour Operators’ Association (PHILTOA) President Cesar Cruz. “Indeed, apart from Bohol’s world renowned Chocolate Hills, the province’s tourism draw is strengthened by the clear blue waters surrounding the island.”

Private Beach in Anda Bohol
Private Beach in Anda Bohol by Carlo Villarica

Bohol is recognized for having the most beautiful eco-marine systems in the world, as the Bohol Marine Triangle that covers Pamilacan, Balicasag, and Panglao shelter whale sharks, stingrays, dolphins, coral reefs, and other forms of marine life. The province is also aptly dubbed as the “cave country,” as some 1400 caves have been counted, and many more remain undiscovered. It is home to assorted flora and fauna, and one of the tiniest primate in the world, the Tarsier.

Panglao Island Beach by Cj Jimenez
Panglao Island Beach by Cj Jimenez

“We are revisiting the areas, particularly the places that withstood the tragedy—to help Bohol underscore the areas that will yet again strengthen the tourism activities in the province. There’s a lot to discover in Bohol—the vibrant lifestyle and interesting finds in its countryside, the Bohol Adventure Park, the sights in Anda, Alburquerque, and Corella, and of course, the beaches in Panglao.”

Cruz added that this effort is also a part of their preparation for the Philippine Travel Mart 2014, whereas tour operators are already arranging trips that will, yet again, give emphasis to Bohol as a historical, eco-marine adventure destination. To date, the Philippine Travel Mart is taking place this September 5-7, 2014, and PHILTOA is looking at offering travel packages that merge local gems like Bohol and some of the Asian destinations. Cruz said that apart from bringing in more tourists in the country’s vacation spots, this will also help solidify the current stature of the Philippines as the country with the fastest growing tourism industry in Asia.

The Philippine Tour Operators Association (PHILTOA), Inc. is a non-stock and non-profit organization of DoT accredited tour operators and allied members actively involved in the advocacy of responsible tourism. The membership includes tour operators focused on promoting inbound and domestic tourism, hotel, resorts, transportation companies, handicraft stores, and other tourism-oriented establishments and associations. For more information on the 25th Philippine Travel Mart, visit www.philtoa.org.

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