Bohol tourist arrivals plummet-A A +A
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
MORE than four months after the 7.2-magnitude earthquake hit Bohol in October last year, the area has suffered a significant decrease in tourist arrivals.
Carmen Bohol Mayor Jun Turibio told Sun.Star Cebu recently that the number of tourists visiting the world-famous Chocolate Hills located in their town has decreased by “almost 50 percent.”
He said that before the quake, they would get up to 4,000 visitors a day. The number increases during the peak season which starts in March and ends in May.
He said aftershocks that the town is experiencing even months after the strong earthquake are discouraging tourists from visiting.
On Feb. 21 at 10 a.m., a day before Sun.Star Cebu interviewed Turibio, the mayor reported that Bohol was shaken by an earthquake that the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology recorded magnitude 4.1 centered 40 kilometers northeast of Tagbilaran City.
At 9:11 p.m. on the same day, Bohol was jolted by a 3.3-magnitude earthquake.
Joshue Hinay, Bohol Island Tour Guides Association of the Philippines president, said the decrease in tourist arrivals was at 85 percent.
“They say it’s 50 percent, but for tourist guides like me, it’s at 85 percent...wa kaayo’y trabaho ang mga tour guides ron (we don’t have much work now),” Hinay said.
The tour guide said that the number of tourists visiting the Loboc River has also decreased.
On Feb. 22, around 200 tourism stakeholders went to Bohol for an eco-tourism technical tour.
Department of Tourism (DOT) 7 senior tourism operations officer Judilyn Quiachon said the technical tour in Bohol, apart from featuring the province as an eco-tourism destination, was done to draw in more tourists and help tourism stakeholders.
Turibio said that in order to help revive the previously vibrant tourism in Bohol, the local government unit of Carmen will be hiring a tourism officer that will hire local guides to be assigned in the Chocolate Hills.
The mayor said there are plans to incorporate cultural shows in the site in the coming months, a plan they came up with even before the earthquake struck.
The cost of damage in Chocolate Hills was estimated to be at P50 million. Turibio said the rehabilitation is ongoing.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 05, 2014.