NOTE: THIS STORY WAS FIRST PUBLISHED IN THE BOHOL CHRONICLE’S SUNDAY PRINT EDITION.
Bohol is expected to have more arrivals, not just tourists, but sports buffs who will be coming to join sports competitions lined up this year.
The Bohol Loop 2023 kicks off together with the scheduled Dive Festival and the Dragon Boat competition, all events expected to bring in thousands of participants.
The Bohol Loop 2023 which kicked off last Friday brought more than a thousand motorcycle riders participating in the 2-day event this weekend.
A total of 1,364 riders registered for the 600 km ride, with more than 100 personnel and responders tailing them for safety measures.
At a speed limit of 80kph, the riders started at 4 o’clock dawn yesterday visiting different tourist sites, such as the Chocolate Hills, Manmade Forest, Baclayon Church, and Loboc river.
The two-day moto-tourism event is sponsored by Motor7 and various private groups in Cebu and supported by the provincial government of Bohol led by Gov. Aris Aumentado, the Department of Tourism (DOT) and the
local government of Tagbilaran city led by Mayor Jane Yap.
This is the second time this event was held in the Province, the first time during the Chatto Administration.
The Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office led by Anthony Damalerio said that their office is closely monitoring the event, providing emergency response for riders in case of accidents.
Bohol Provincial Tourism Office OIC Josephine Cabarrus revealed that the Bohol Loop 2023 will help a lot in the development of the tourism sector in the Province and entice moto-tourists to visit.
Governor Aumentado is also very grateful to those who are behind the event to promote the Province, especially after the economic setbacks brought by Typhoon Odette and the COVID-19 Pandemic. Aumentado hopes that Bohol hosts more events like the Bohol Loop in the near future.
Meanwhile, the upcoming Bohol Dive Loop Expo (Bholdex) 2023 this April puts in place best practices, and measures that assure environmental protection and preservation which immerses newly opened dive sites in the towns on a leading edge.
Environmental User’s Fee (EUF), Advance Booking System (ABS), and regular underwater monitoring would be Bholdex’s innovations ensuring that Bohol sustains its world-class marine treasures in these new dive sites in at least 12 towns here.
Unlike when Bohol opened its enchanted underwater treasures to divers in the 1980s when it was free for all, the recent advancements in marine environmental sustainability have pushed environmental managers to implement measures for underwater environment protection and conservation, explained Panglao Association of Dive Operators vice president Edgar Baylon, in an interview.
Partnering with PADO, Bohol, which has chosen to take a path to keep its resources at its pristine conditions, looks at the contentious issue of carrying capacity in ecotourism sites.
“Before we proposed the opening of the new dive sites in the towns outside Panglao, we conducted underwater assessments, and marine stock inventory and use this to calculate the site’s carrying capacity, which should be strictly followed to minimize the environmental impacts of divers to the sites,” Baylon said during a radio forum aired over PIA Bohol Youtube and Facebook channels.
Bholdex 2023 is a 16-day dive festival that highlights an underwater photography competition for Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus (SCUBA) divers category and for free dive category.
Besides that, Bholdex also offers fun dives, information education campaigns, coastal clean-ups, lectures and coral transplantation activities, with host LGU activities organized for visiting divers.
It also includes in the dive loop new dive sites identified by organizers after collaborative underwater assessments by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Bohol Provincial Environment Management Office (BPEMO) and PADO.
Included in the divers’ itinerary for the festival competition are dive sites in Lila, Dimiao, Valencia, Garcia Hernandez, Jagna, Duero, Guindulman, Anda, Mabini, Ubay and Talibon with Panglao.
These new dive sites are privileged as they open with the right measures, unlike what we did with Panglao when the measures came later, after we realized there have to be regulations in place for environment sustainability, adds Baylon who operates a dive resort in Alona beach front, Panglao’s most famous beachfront.
We have the town councils adopting the EUF and ABS as well as the monitoring systems seeing how it worked in Panglao, Baylon shared.
The ABS works in such a way that a diver who books through the Bholdex website is given a dive site assignment at a specific time and date, to make sure that there is no extra diver in the site which can impact the area’s carrying capacity.
Meanwhile, the EUF will assure the town that it will have a resource it can use in the future to rehabilitate and improve the dive site or build new facilities as an add-on, he quipped.
“These new dive sites in the towns that we are opening for Bholdex are comparable to the premiere core dive sites in Panglao, Balicasag, Pamilacan, and Cabilao,” Baylon, who has dived the Tubbataha claimed.
Earlier in the interview, he also said Bohol’s dive sites are at par with the Great Barrier Reefs of Australia, a mecca of the world’s SCUBA divers.
But, when other areas are not as keen on the environmental impacts caused by the divers in their waters, Bholdex just doesn’t want.
This is happening here, Boholdex organizers shared.
Divers and free divers interested in joining Bholdex have to register at www.Bholdex.com to be assured of slots.
Together with this crowd getter events will be theDragon Boat competition which is expected to bring 32 delegations from across the country. Last Night, the Glow in the Dark dragon boat competition was held as part of the Saulog celebration of the city government.