Freeman Cebu Business

Bohol sees fiesta culture as potential tourism lure

Ehda M. Dagooc - The Freeman

PANGLAO, Bohol, Philippines — Amid recent security threats hounding the island province, Bohol now moves on capitalizing on its fiesta celebrations as another potential tourist attraction.

Tourism industry stakeholders are planning to launch a ‘Fiesta Package’ involving the 47 towns of the province, the economies of which are driven by tourism. This aspect will be an add-on to the province’s known festivals and destination favorites, said Bohol Provincial Tourism Council Inc., executive director Emmylou Palacio-Noel.

The communities will participate actively in turning their barangay or town fiesta as tourist sensations, by hosting a group of visitors to the whole-year fiesta culture of Bohol homes showcasing the authentic culture of Boholano hospitality, and the fiesta tradition — from culinary preparations, to traditional entertainment styles which have been kept and untouched by modern lifestyle influences.

This culture immersion package, Noel said is one of the major programs the tourism stakeholders in Bohol is creating following the introduction of its new brand "Behold Bohol."

"Fiestas in Bohol are not solely religious activities," she said but rather a celebration of life and thanksgiving regardless of religious affinity.

"Life is a fiesta in Bohol," Noel added.

The ‘Fiesta Package’ will also allow tourists not just to observe and witness the colorful and vibrant culture of the province, but "taste the culture" as well through food.

The month of May is the fiesta month of Bohol. From May 1 to May 30, fiesta is celebrated in barangays and towns. Boholanos, regardless of distance and financial constraints, always see to it that they will be able to come home during their respective town or barangay fiesta.

This is something that the modern tourists should see and experience, added Noel.

In fact, during the dry-run of this new tour package offering, it already gained interest from European tourists, added Noel.

Noel added that the council has identified four major festivals whole-year round, these are; Sandugo Festival (July), sporting events in the fourth quarter of the year, Ube Festival ((January) and May is dedicated as fiesta month.

DOT-7 officer-in-charge Judy Gabato said that this concept of promoting fiestas in Bohol reinforces tourism chief Wanda Teo's thrust in pushing religious or faith-based tourism in the Philippines.

The Department of Tourism (DOT) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), in coordination with American broadcasting giant CNN, and some private entities launched last February the new “Behold Bohol” branding, years after the province was hit by calamities.

Lucas Nunag, chairman of the Bohol Provincial Tourism Council, said “Behold Bohol” will help strengthen the province’s position as a prime eco-cultural tourist destination globally.

In October 2013, the province of Bohol was hit by a magnitude 7.2 earthquake that damaged several historical churches and major infrastructure.

Last month, Bohol was again slapped with yet another peace and order concern with the infiltration of terrorism extremists resulting to a series of travel warnings led by United States, and other major tourism markets. (FREEMAN)

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