THE home province of the world-renowned Chocolate Hills will be the next site of a Tourist Rest Area (TRA) that will provide convenience to tourists visiting the island.
Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco on Wednesday (Dec. 7) led the groundbreaking ceremony and signing of the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the Provincial Government of Bohol, the Local Government of Dauis, and the Tourism Infrastructure Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) for the establishment of the sixth TRA so far rolled out by the Department of Tourism (DOT).
“With the long list of natural and man-made resources in the province making it a favorite among visitors both domestic and foreign, the Department of Tourism recognizes the contribution of the tourism industry of Bohol. This is the reason why we made sure that a Tourist Rest Area will be established here to enhance the overall tourist experience,” said Frasco.
One of the most visited destinations in Central Visayas, Bohol offers a wide range of tourist spots and activities for history buffs, beach lovers, and adrenaline junkies alike.
Moreover, the Municipality of Dauis is strategically situated between two locations: the City of Tagbilaran and the Municipality of Panglao. Tagbilaran City is home to one of the province’s main gateways, the Tagbilaran City Seaport, while the island of Panglao is among Bohol’s most active tourist destinations, with long stretches of white sand beach including the famous Alona Beach.
The Dauis TRA will be built along a main thoroughfare, the Luis T. Clarin Highway and is a stone’s throw away from Our Lady of Assumption Parish in Panglao. The tourist pit-stop is conveniently located so it can be accessible to tourists on their way to a city tour of Tagbilaran, or those on a road trip to the towns of Carmen, home to the Chocolate Hills, and Loboc, which is most visited for the Loboc River Cruise.
“The marching order of President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. is to improve the overall tourist experience, and with this Tourist Rest Area, we hope to provide our tourists a stress-free and convenient journey. The provision of this basic service is a building block in ensuring that your government can sustain a strong tourism industry and economic prosperity for all the communities that depend on it,” Frasco said, speaking in Cebuano.
As of September 30, Bohol has logged more than 222,000 visitors, or a 24 percent increase vis-à-vis the 179,000 recorded in 2021, and 177,000 in 2020.
Similar to what had been launched in six other tourist destinations including Bukidnon, Davao del Norte, Cebu, and Baguio City, the TRA in Dauis will be a show-window of the Filipino brand to the world, and is envisioned to be a conducive place where tourists can rest during their journey. The establishment will also feature a one-stop-shop for information and pasalubong center where tourists can buy best samples of local and Filipino products.
Present in the ceremonies are Bohol Governor Erico Aristotle Aumentado, Vice Governor Dionisio Victor Balite, Bohol 1st District Representative Edgar Chato, Dauis Mayor Roman Bullen, and Dauis Vice Mayor Marietta Sumaylo.
In her speech the tourism chief noted the pivotal role that the local leaders play in pursuing tourism development that is not only progressive, but sustainable as well.
“Rest assured that the DOT is working double time alongside the concerned government agencies to introduce the necessary infrastructure developments, particularly, in our gateways—the airports and seaports to herald to the world our readiness to accept all the visitors raring to visit our shores. We have high hopes for the full and fast recovery of our industry, and to do this, we know that we need the full support of our LGUs—the governors, the congressmen, and the mayors- kamo ang mga bida sa turismo sa administrasyon ni Presidente Marcos,” the tourism chief added.
To recall, President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. in his first State of the Nation Address, directed the DOT to lead the programs that will “make it more convenient for travelers to go around the country, even to remote areas, to help promote undiscovered tourist spots”.
The Tourist Rest Areas are to be built in strategic locations across the country in partnership with the DOT’s infrastructure arm, the TIEZA.
Continuing her Listening Tours as a way of reaching out directly to tourism stakeholders, Frasco met with tourism industry leaders in the province of Bohol. Concerns were raised on the challenges faced by the local tourist transportation and accommodation sectors. Among government agencies present during the meeting were the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) and the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG). Among several concerns in the meeting, the discussions centered on the request of stakeholders for coordination with Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) on the regulation and preservation of eco-cultural areas in the province.
The Tourism Chief also shared the DOT’s goal to conduct the “Filipino Brand of Service Excellence” Training to 100,000 industry workers by 2023 — it’s highest target ever set in terms of industry manpower development.
“As we move forward in this new era of tourism development, I hope for your continued collaboration in order to usher in the country’s economic recovery. Trust that your Department of Tourism will wholeheartedly do its best by extending support to local government units and private stakeholders, so that we can put forward the Philippines as a premier tourist destination in Asia and the world,” Frasco said.
The Listening Tours were set in motion upon Frasco’s assumption as Secretary of Tourism last July 1, aiming to gather significant inputs and hear out concerns of key players in the tourism sector.
“Bohol has one of the most significant and vibrant tourism industries here in Central Visayas, not just because of your beautiful destinations, but also because of your active tourism stakeholders,” Frasco told the stakeholders present.
Other than the representatives of national and local government agencies present, the meeting was attended by 15 tourism-related establishment owners and tourism association representatives from all over Bohol. Joining the Secretary are DOT Undersecretary Shahlimar Hofer Tamano, Undersecretary Shereen Gail Yu-Pamintuan, Undersecretary Ferdinand Jumapao, and Assistant Secretary Kristine Chiong-Genogobis.