TOURISM Secretary Wanda Corazon Teo yesterday promised tourism players in Bohol that she would focus on selling Cebu and Bohol in international travel shows to help both provinces' tourism sectors rebound after government troops clashed with Abu Sayyaf members.
Teo said aggressive marketing efforts already started at the Dubai Travel Fair where they promoted Bohol so it could recover the loss in tourism receipts from core source markets like Japan, China and Korea.
She also informed tourism players that she has coordinated with the United Nations World Tourism Organization to encourage foreign counterparts to issue “fair” travel advisories.
Tourism in both provinces has been affected after foreign countries led by the US issued travel warnings over possible kidnappings by terrorists groups and by the armed encounter with the Abu Sayyaf in Inabanga and Clarin, both in Bohol, last month.
Atty. Lucas Nunag, Bohol Provincial Tourism Council chairman, said 12 big groups canceled trips to the province, while other establishments reported more than 200 cancellations. These were offset though by the surge of domestic arrivals.
"We see this as short-term disruption, which has been replenished by local and some foreign arrivals," said Nunag.
He said Teo's visit, her first as tourism secretary, is a vote of confidence that Bohol remains a safe destination.
During her stay, she visited Bohol's top attractions like Chocolate Hills in Carmen, the Baclayon Church, Loboc River and the man-made forest.
Like Manila and Palawan, Cebu and Bohol can stand on their own amid challenges as they remain to be the top picks among foreign tourists, said Teo.
She, however, admitted that there have been setbacks as a result of last month's clashes, but she is optimistic that in a month or two the tourists will return.
Bohol Gov. Edgar Chatto also declared the province as a safe place to visit.
He said tourists should dismiss all worries and fears in light of the recent arrest of a suspected Abu Sayyaf member in Tubigon yesterday morning.
Chatto said that security measures have been in place long before the Abu Sayyafs arrived in Bohol.
In past interviews, he pointed out that the areas where the terrorists tried to operate are far from the "tourism zone" and the airport and pier in Tagbilaran City.
Published in the SunStar Cebu newspaper on May 05, 2017.
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