Freeman Cebu Business

Earthquake ruins lure more tourists to Bohol

Grace Melanie L. Lacamiento - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - Days after the 7.2-magnitude earthquake jolted the Central Visayas last October 15, the tourism industry of the Bohol has gradually recovered from what was expected to be a lean season with the heightened interest of  tourists to visit the province after the tragedy.

Cecile Remblador, tour guide of the travel agency Travel Village and Tours, said that there is an increase in the number of bookings after the quake happened.

She shared that a week before the earthquake, it has been hard for tour guides like her to manage a booking. But the day after the earthquake, she was surprised as tourists started calling her to check if  they were  affected with the calamity and asked if the tourist destinations are still good to visit.

She said that majority of the tourists who showed interest comprised of domestic travellers.

She cited that the months of June to October are considered to be part of  the lean season in the year for travel and tours agencies.

Being a tour guide has been Remblador’s primary livelihood for 20 years.

Travel Village and Tours owner Walter Sultan who is also the acting vice chairman of Bohol Provincial Tourism Council supported Remblador’s statements, saying that they are receiving an influx of inquiries and bookings even after the quake shook the province.

He said that the ruins of the centuries-old churches and the five-kilometer fault line in Barangay Anonang in Inabanga have drawn the curiosity of both the local and foreign interests.

“At first, all of our bookings were on hold. There were cancellations, there were also unexpected tours. They are becoming an attraction for tourists,” he said.

Travel Village and Tours is working closely with 2GO shipping company for the Island Skip Trip Bohol countryside tour.

Sultan said that the company officially resumed its operations last October 24 and handled 200 tourists in the reopening day. Two days after, he added that they also catered to 60 Chinese tourists who have reserved a booking before the quake happened.

Island Skip Trip is inspired after the concept of  a fast yet jampacked tour around the province of  Bohol.

The package is inclusive of a roundtrip 2GO travel ticket to and from Bohol, air-conditioned transportation in Bohol, a professional English-speaking tour guide, Loboc River Cruise with lunch, applicable entrance fees and terminal fees in Cebu and Bohol.

Among the tourist destinations to be visited as covered by the Island Skip Trip include the Blood Compact Monument, Baclayon Church and Museum, Corelle Tarsier Sanctuary, Loboc River, Bilar Man-made Forest, Chocolate Hills, and Butterfly Conservatory.

The Island Skip Trip package is pegged at P2,850 per person. If  a pair of tourists wants an exclusive tour, the P4,000-package each is also available.

Sultan said that the Loboc River Cruise, where tourists can also view the back portion of the ruins of Loboc Church, still maintains its spot as the most in-demand and bestselling destination among visitors aside from the well-renowned  Chocolate Hills in Carmen, Bohol.

After the thorough investigation on the quake-hit areas and official clearance from the responsible government agencies, he revealed that they may pursue the tours in the ruins and other new attractions in the province.

Earlier, Governor Edgar Chatto announced that Bohol could become a hub for geological and geosciences tours in the country after the earthquake hit the province.

“The ruins are tourist attractions by themselves,” he said, who shared that they are planning to put up viewing sites for geological exploration purposes while tour guides could orient visitors how the fault lines and land masses have emerged.

He also said that tourists who come to visit Bohol are assured that the province is safe according to the evaluation of  the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) and the University of the Philippines National Institute of Geological Sciences.

According to Phivolcs, the fault is unlikely to generate an earthquake stronger than the 7.2-magnitude in the near future since a ground rupture occurs only once in 100 years.

The tourism industry of the province, Chatto said, accounts a contribution of 20 to 25 percent of the Bohol economy. He said that economic production is largely comprised of  agricultural output and another good percentage of the remittances of Overseas Filipino Workers. —(FREEMAN)











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