Based on the renowned Japanese Â reputation for time management and precision – the realization Â of the ages-long Â dream of the New Bohol Panglao International Airport will Â be Â by Â the middle of 2018, since the contract through Japan international Cooperation Agency (JICA) says it’s a 30-month job to implement.Â
The new airport is the “key” for Bohol’s tourism wholesale development -which explains the wide-eyed enthusiasm of Â the big names among the Â resorts and hotels today to come over here.Â But isn’t it that 2018 is a good 3.5 years away for completion from today- and that – that’s a lot of lost opportunities if we just sit and wait? We sincerely think so.
Serious setbacks currently bedevil us like the small existing runway of the Tagbilaran City Airport where a one-plane policy puts to risk the arrivals and departures of the riding public whenever a plane get stalled at the tarmac-with the long overdue emergency ramp up for completion only Â by August.
Is it not yet too late in the day Â for the Â present government leadership Â to lobby to top DOTC( Department of Transportation and Communication) Â officials- Â that the emergency ramp, be instead Â utilized as an Â airport Â extension even with just an improvised terminal building beside it ?Â Our thesis is that three and half years represent Â a huge chunk of tourism business going instead Â to other destinations simply because we lack the capacity to absorb more flights.
Such a revised arrangement means Â more flights and avoiding Â the risk of flights getting delayed and cancelled due to runway congestion. (That has made many swear never to return to Bohol again for the gross inconvenience it carries). It can mean investors are going to build more room capacity in the interim while the Big One in Panglao opens with a huge red carpet welcome in 2018. Instead of Â Bohol losing the investors’ valued interest- their necks swayed to provinces with better absorptive capacity for tourists’ influx.
Already, Â we marveled at the new 800 to 900 additional room accommodation with the opening of Henann Resort and B Resort , aside from the mushrooming of Â boutique resorts in Panglao , Â Anda, and the Tagbilaran capital city.
Thinking forward, Â more rooms to accommodate guests, could mean Â some Â good preparation to make Tagbilaran City as the new “convention destination”. Verily, the biggest business segment of the tourism industry -worldwide- caters Â to the meeting, convention, entertainment Â types of tourism.Ask the DOT.
The truly “Big Ticket” Â items require a convention center or entertainment Â site that can house Â some 10,000 to 20,000 people. The market for conventions, concerts, basketball games is a huge business proposition. Explain, for instance, Â why the humongous investment of the Shoemart Group in the Mall of Asia and the even the INC in its Â Philippine Arena -even in faraway Bulacan which can reportedly house double that of the iconic Araneta Coliseum.?
But, this can hardly happen Â if we don’tÂ improve our existing Tagbilaran Airport (while waiting for the P7B airport project done).Â The green light signals are there to see- it’s a pity.
Indication of progress is the recent opening of Henann Resort, the biggest resort inÂ Bohol Â now with 400 well appointed rooms along the white sandy shorelines of Alona. The corollary spike Â that Â can never be denied is Â that the entry of this resort under hotelier ______________ will ignite the leveling off of room rates from among the resorts here,
Over the years, we always Â hear the bad reviews of Bohol being Â an “expensive” destination. But with Â Henann offering room rates at P5K for local visitors, Â it will trigger other resorts to rationalize their room rates – thereby slowly eradicating that “expensive image” as a destination.
Even the cuisine quality and prices Â are improving Â and raised new bars of culinary standards with the Â Boholanos welcoming Â with gratitude the Henann Resort’s buffet going for Â for as a low as P280 -P340 with a five-star setting. Only a couple of years ago, the landscape of Bohol tourism changed dramatically Â with the opening of the five-star Bellevue Resort of Johnny Chan. B Resort of the Benedictos had its soft opening and more are yet to come -if Bohol proves absorptive capacity for more visitors.Change has truly began.
The second issue that comes to the fore in our frenzied rush towards Â tourism development is the destruction of the environment. Not to prepare for its preservation is to lay the foundation for the Â eventual destruction of the very thing that made tourism prosper here Â -our very own Mother Nature and her environment.
TakeÂ the garbage disposal system. We all hear about the P300 million Albur Cluster Sanitary Landfill which until now has not been completed. The public is fed up with the controversies Â of Â this project- they want solutions.Â We know that TIEZA is working out for the completion of the project while AlburÂ Mayor Efren Tungol continues in his tirades against alleged lapses in the construction.
Garbage-and lack of Â its proper disposal- Â has partially destroyed the tourism industry in Egypt and Mexico. Stench repels tourists and coliform bacteria Â from sewage disposal -not properly Â channeled to sanitary landfills- will destroy the algae that protects the corals- needed to make your sand white as can be.Â Coral reefs are a natural protection against the wave surges -which with unrestrained momentum can erode the sand and destroy the seashore Â ambiance.
Human capacity for healthy swimming at sea is Â rated at 1,000 most probable number (mpn) of coliform bacteria per 100 millimeters and imagine the fact that dumping sewage to sea contains 46,000 (mpn) of such bacteria. It is a race against time-and all we do at times Â is gaze at our navels by the seaside while politicians and bureaucrats shout their throats hoarse over public credits.
We should Â not remain in this situation. One day, we should have that much needed sanitary landfill. We wish to hear the mayors concerned especially those from Tagbilaran City and Panglao where the garbage disposal needs much attention due to the fast growing economy attendant to tourism development.
Another Â environmental concern is Â the aborted plan to construct a temporary port in Tangnan, Panglao which will be used as the receiving port of the heavy equipment and materials Â reportedly needed for the construction of the New Bohol Airport. We heard much righteous Â objection on the proposed port despite Â the Â likewise Â valid concern that there would Â be traffic congestion at the Tagbilaran Port and along Gallares street Â once the heavy equipment starts to arrive soon-now that the Â airport construction is about to begin.
We pointed out to the provincial leadership that since our existing city port and the roads leading to Panglao cannot Â anymore be widened at this time, then Â it stands to reason that Â that the arrivals and Â movement of these heavy equipment and materials must be done strictly during night time, starting at 9:00 pm after the arrival of the last fast craft from Cebu City up to 6:00 in the morning
The track ban in Metro Manila’s major thoroughfares until 10 pm in the evening is very instructive.
A nine-hour daily traffic-free road to Panglao would very well Â be the answer- Â sufficient to bring these needed materials and equipment, without worsening the traffic congestion at the city port nor raising environmental issues in the construction of a temporary port in Panglao.
We cannot grow tourism without Â a Â game plan.Â Hawaii, all these decades, attracts visitors -and even showcases to this day its magnificence in the TV series “Hawaii Five-O” circa 2015. Long before, in wanting to Â arrest the carbon emissions of vehicles, Hawaii became Â a great believer in electric cars and allowed tons of them inside Â plus Â the government installed Â electric power charging tools in the island- free to motorists.
Many such similarly minded tourist destinations- provide bicycle lanes and even horseback tours in their islands to prevent gas proliferation of the atmosphere Â and even kayaking instead of speedboats and the like, Â They care about the future of tourism -so they take Â care for the environment.
Boracay to us , lovely as it is, appears to us Â like “tourism gone wild”. From a backpackers’ paradise in the 70’s – it now serves 1.4 million visitors with 300 resorts and about 200 restaurants plus bars, coffee shops, massage parlors and what have yous.Â Many violate the sanitary and sewerage law -protected by politicians and corrupt men at the DENR.
They also have a multi-billion reclamation project nearby that is already raising a lot of howls for the environmental rape that ensued as a consequence.
No, Bohol should not follow Boracay’s tourism trap- development at whatever cost. Let’s make haste slowly- build our absorptive capacities ( has anybody asked how many swimming pools and golf courses can Bohol’s Â current water supply sustain?, for instance)and make sure we provide a protective mantel over Mother Nature.
She has given us everything for free- how dare we destroy her graces by greed and neglect?
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