TOURISM stakeholders in Bohol will continue to offer day tours to local and foreign tourists through alternate routes, said a top official from the Department of Tourism (DOT).
“It’s business as usual for Bohol although not all roads are passable,” said DOT-Central Visayas regional director Rowena Montecillo in a phone interview Wednesday. “For tourism we are looking into alternate routes in going to the tourism sites.”
Bohol is the second most visited destination in Central Visayas after Cebu.
Montecillo, who is in Bohol, said that with the cooperation of the private tourism sector, they identified alternate routes in Bohol, particularly for day tour activities.
She said they also found a new route and a new area where local and foreign tourists can still experience the breathtaking view of the famous Chocolate Hills.
“We found a route whose roads are in good condition and passable, though its 20 kilometers farther than the usual route. We also discovered a new tourism site, an adventure park which is supposedly due for launching but given the recent calamity, they will open the site for tourists. It has a mini park and a viewing deck, with 248 steps, for Chocolate Hills,” said Montecillo.
Tourists, though, would miss the viewing of century-old churches and the lunch cruise at the Loboc River Floating Restaurant as roads going there are not yet passable and the Loboc River is not yet operational, she said.
According to Montecillo, the day tour activity will start in Tagbilaran City going to Cortes for the Abatan River Cruise. Tourists will then have lunch in Antequera and dock in Loreto where they will start the land trip to the Chocolate Hills passing the towns of Balilihan, Catigbian, Sagbayan and Carmen. From Carmen, the tour will head to Corella for tarsier viewing then head back to Tagbilaran City.
A dry run will be conducted by the tourism stakeholders over the weekend. Montecillo said they hope to begin offering this alternate day tour routes early next week.
“This is quite a longer route than before but can be covered in a day,” said Montecillo. She said operators will charge the same rates.
Panglao, on the other hand, will continue offering water activities.
Bohol was hit by a 7.2 magnitude earthquake last Tuesday, killing more than a hundred and destroying properties, including centuries-old churches.
Montecillo expects a slight drop in arrivals in Bohol due to the calamity but she said the province will recover as soon as infrastructure like roads will be fixed.
In Cebu, Montecillo said she already directed field officials and tourism officers to conduct structural assessment in various hotels and resorts.
Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez visited Bohol yesterday to check on the damage. He is scheduled to visit Cebu today.
The DOT 7 office remained closed since Wednesday. Montecillo said the building is still undergoing structural assessment.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 18, 2013.