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Panglao, BoholThe Department of Tourism (DOT) will lobby for its inclusion in the national government’s Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) to be able to provide recommendations on furthering the protection and preservation of the country’s protected areas safeguarded by the law, primarily in tourism destinations such as Bohol.

This was reiterated by Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco during a meeting with the members of the Provincial Government of Bohol led by Governor Erico Aristotle Aumentado, in relation to the controversial construction of Captain’s Peak Resort at the foot of Chocolate Hills in Sagbayan town in Bohol.

 The meeting happened on the sidelines of the inaugural Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) International Conference on Women in Travel hosted by the DOT in Panglao Island, Bohol, on Thursday (Mar. 21).

 While the Department has earlier expressed its position on the matter, the Secretary, during the meeting, said that the incident will serve as an opportunity for Bohol to put sustainable development on its agenda, considering that Bohol Island is the Philippines’ very first UNESCO-recognized Global Geopark.

 “Being blessed with this incredible, rich, and beautiful resource comes with the enormous responsibility of ensuring it is maintained and conserved. This will not diminish our efforts to work with you because we recognize the trajectory of Bohol’s tourism and we want to be able to ensure that development is sustainable and the opportunities coming to your province are distributed equitably,” said Secretary Frasco.

 “As we leave the investigations and regulatory movements to both the DILG and the DENR, we felt that it was incumbent upon us in the Department of Tourism to reach out to you to let you know that our partnership for tourism shall continue because this issue, while it should be addressed and accountabilities must be had, it should not distract us from all the other work that needs to be done because I know as well as you do that millions depend on the livelihood and employment that is generated by tourism, including that of Bohol,” Secretary Frasco tells Governor Aumentado during their meeting.

“On the national level, since PAMB is a creation of law and DOT is not a part of PAMB, we are lobbying for legislation to amend its composition to include the DOT so it may give its insights and guidance on sustainable tourism development for protected areas,” added the tourism chief.

 For his part, Governor Aumentado said that the local government unit (LGU) will create a new committee that will oversee and review guidelines on matters concerning investments and initiatives that would not compromise the environment and protected areas where the DOT will be part of.

 “We, here in the province of Bohol, will create, through an ordinance, for clearer policy and guidelines, will create our own committee. We’ll call it RevDCom, or Review and Development Committee.  [The] DOT will be part of this committee. Every time they will ask for PAMB clearance, they will pass through this committee,” said Governor Aumentado.

 To recall, the DOT released a statement noting that the property in question, Captain’s Peak Resort, is not accredited by the Department, and does not have a pending application for the same.

 Thus, Secretary Frasco also offered the DOT’s support to Bohol-LGU in encouraging qualified establishments to apply for DOT accreditation to elevate the standards of operations of tourist establishments and ensure the protection of tourists. The Department will also extend guidance on other plans of the LGU for Bohol local tourism to prosper.

 With the apparent closure of the resort establishment amid legal and environmental concerns, the Secretary likewise said that the DOT will provide alternative livelihood training programs and tour guiding kits for the affected stakeholders.

 “We view Bohol with great importance being home to a myriad of ecotourism gems. In addition to Chocolate Hills, of course, you have the Loboc River, you have various resorts, accommodation establishments and community-based tourism initiatives that are worthy of emulation”, said Secretary Frasco.

 “As the Governor said, perhaps we can train our perspective towards the opportunities that lie to conserve what’s there that remains, and there is so much, to correct what has been done and most importantly to really pave the way forward. This is a golden opportunity for Bohol to put forth its tourism sustainability agenda to maintain its current status. No other place in the Philippines can boast of what you have,” the tourism chief enthused.

 Among the ongoing initiatives supported by the DOT for Bohol province include the rehabilitation of its famed Alona beach which includes the fixing of seawall through the help of the DOT’s infrastructure arm, Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA); exploring partners from the private sector for its Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) systems; and the building of Tourist Rest Areas (TRAs) for an enhanced overall tourist experience in key strategic locations, Panglao Island and Tagbilaran town.

 Meanwhile, other attendees of the meeting were DOT Undersecretaries Shahlimar Hofer Tamano, Mae Elaine T. Bathan, Bohol Provincial Administrator Aster Caberte, Legal Officer Atty. Handel Lagunay, provincial board members and the tourism council of the province.


Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco with Undersecretaries Shahlimar Hofer Tamano and Mae Elaine Bathan and other DOT officials met with the provincial government officials of Bohol led by Governor Erico Aristotle Aumentado and Provincial Administrator Aster Caberte discuss the way forward after the Chocolate Hills mele

Published:March 22, 2024

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