Tourism Management in Bohol Province, Philippines

By Romy Teruel, Sunday Post

The management of the Provincial Tourism Council changed hands last Thursday with the election and oath taking of the new set of officers during its full council meeting at the Bohol Tropics. Mr. Peter Dejaresco turned over his post as chairman of the Council to Atty Lucas 'Doy' Nunag who was elected without an opposition.  Dejaresco served the council as chairman since 2004. 

 Under the rules of the Bohol Tourism Council, the chairman shall be elected from the private sector while the co-chairman is the Chairman of the Committee on Tourism of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan who now happens to be Kag. Ester Corazon  Galbreath of the third District.  The new officers took their oath immediately before Gov. Erico B. Aumentado. 

 In his report to the Council that also served as his valedictory, Dejaresco pointed out the challenges that face the new set of officers and the industry players in Bohol after gaining foothold on the ground as a prime tourism destination in then country and earning its niche in the tourism map of the world. 

 Dejaresco said it's no longer increased tourism arrival that concerns the Council but how to now start the conservation and preservation of the tourism assets of the province to which Doy Nunag agreed. 

 Actually Doy Nunag is the best replacement to chair the Bohol Tourism Council.  While relatively new in the industry, Doy is an advocate not only of environmental preservation and conservation but also of Boholano culture and arts. 

 Doy's Amarela in Libaong, Panglao is the best example of this.  Even before the Panglao Island Tourism Development guidelines came up with the integration of the Boholano culture in the buildings of tourism-related establishment, Amarela has already been sporting it. 

 Doy was quick to organize divers for marine life conservation and protection.  He is one among those who implemented an environmentally friendly waste management system.  The good things he learned from his international travels find replication at Amarela. I happen to join him in one of those benchmarking travels to Phuket, Thailand to observe quality service standards for tourism. 

 Tourism is a private sector-led industry.  And so it is just proper that the challenges that the industry is facing must be addressed jointly by the private sector.  Government has already put in place the guidelines and standards, the infrastructure and climate for investment. 

 It is time that the private sector in the industry takes the lead in observing these policies and guidelines.  Government can hardly be blamed now.  The players in the industry – those raking in profits must now see to it that their profits are sustained by adhering to and observing the guidelines, rules and laws on the preservation and conservation of the environment.  The law on salvage zone has been there repeatedly told to the resort and restaurant owners from the time they applied for environmental clearance certificate (ECC) until the issuance of occupancy permit.  But all we see are honours in the breach than observance.  

 Panglao is becoming the example of violation. Even public officials who have the duty to be the first to observe the law are the first to forget them when constructing the buildings for their business.  

 The private sector has more to benefit from the observance of these environmental rules and regulations.  After all they are the ones raking in profits.  To observe the law is to protect and conserve the environment.  A protected and conserved environment will sustain business in the long term. A long term business means more profits. 

 I can't understand why businessmen would want to shorten the period of their profits knowing this will be the consequence when they violate environmental laws. 

 The challenges are not limited to environmental protection and conservation. Ugly practices that are beginning to reappear are not limited to dirty streets, dirty pier, and disorderly situation at arrival areas of the airport and the piers. Bohol's pride that is the Boholano culture is beginning to get lost in areas frequented by foreign tourists.  The Boholano culture is one of Bohol's attractions.  It should never be lost.