Solving Bohol’s air and land transport woes

Topic |  

Solving Bohol’s air and land transport woes

Topic |  

FINALLY, THE ONCE ‘PASSIVE” Boholanos seem to have run out of “patience” amidst the mounting puzzlement why airfare to Bohol is extraordinarily high.

The multi-sectoral tourism industry turned its surprise, and peeve and then into agitated questioning why Bohol, a prime tourist destination, should suffer the brunt of excessively high airfares compared to other destinations.  

The Provincial Tourism Council (PTC) finally came up with a comparative survey on airfares to Bohol, Palawan, Boracay and Cebu.  The public’s observation was indeed confirmed. What’s behind this discriminatory pricing, airline Shylocks, may we ask?

It may be stretching the imagination too far to imagine that there must be a malicious conspiracy to deliberately put Bohol in a non-competitive position with this clearly biased airline pricing. But we can’t help it.


And we thank the PTC under lawyer Doy Nunag for finally taking the cudgels in requesting the three airline companies, Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific and AirAsia to give the public an acceptable explanation of the reasons behind this high fare to Bohol from Manila.  

It is providential that the private tourism body is supported by the Bohol Association of Hotels, Resorts and Restaurants (BAHRR), Bohol Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) and the Bohol Federation of Travel and TourOperators (BOFETTO), in making the “big noise” on why Bohol seems to be at the receiving end of mounting complaints over this high airfares.   

Tourists, businessmen, professionals, and even balikbayans and foreigners note with aghast that it’s super expensive to come to Bohol.  For instance, a round-trip ticket to Bohol (on a 2-day before-flying date purchase) could easily cost up to P15,000.  Unbelievable but true. Try booking.  

The industry players are in unison in saying that plane fare ( as a cost component) is a very vital consideration in inviting tourists to visit the province. 

For the moment, we always assume that in our capitalist system, the law of supply and demand works.  When too many people demand tickets and with few flights, prices go up. When there are few interested flyers, the airlines will have to charge higher fares to cover the vacant seats.

But none of the two situations seem to be happening.


There are four flights daily from Cebu Pacific and Air Asia and three flights from PAL, 11 in total. And in most cases, the flights are fully booked or nearing capacity except in rare cases. 


So what new theory in elementary Economics are we missing here?

There is apparent demand- otherwise, why the monicker “Bohol is one of the most preferred destinations” in the country? Since there is ample demand, why are the airlines a party to killing this ardent enthusiasm of people to visit Bohol- some of them for the second or third time- by applying soon-to-be prohibitive airline plane rates?

Supporting this alarm bell sounded by the private sector, Bohol Gov. Aris Aumentado immediately wrote the chief executives of the three airline companies a week ago asking for an explanation. Because needless to say Bohol’s economy relies heavily on tourism.


The double whammy of this predicament occurs when tourists, upon landing at the Bohol Panglao International Airport (BPIA), will start to smell the reality of talks going around the world about how expensive it costs to move around Bohol. 

It’s quite expensive to move around the island with the uncontrolled fares of tricycles, which is the most convenient available mode of transportation from the resorts to restaurants even all the way up to the Chocolate Hills. 


To say nothing about the risk of imminent accidents.   We hope the cars and vans (especially the colorum) are now strictly following regulated fares ferrying tourists to any point in the province.

After the Governor’s letter to the three airlines, we are assuaged a bit by the news that soon some 20 modern PUVs will be rolled out to transport visitors at serve at least up to the Eastern tourism corridor. Five of them will be deployed earlier than the others.

This is a deal fashioned out by Eduardo Montealto LFTRB- Central Visayas as project support of the DOTr to the DOT’s targets in coordination with the Bohol governor.

Aside from the safety and restrained pricing, the modern PUVs will cruise their way passing through two landmark sites: the Sikatuna-Legaspi Friendship Site and the iconic 427- year old Baclayon church, one of the nation’s oldest.

For the moment, the final destination will be the Loboc River cruise site where the floating restaurants offer meals and music on board (and along the riverbanks). Why not include the Chocolate Hills, for good measure? 

The PUV operation is also trying to address the transport concerns of those arriving through the Tagbilaran City seaport and going to their destinations in Panglao Island. And why not service as well those disembarking passengers from the international airport to their destinations, for good measure?

Much needs to be done to undo the bad image of our expensive air and chaotic land transport systems. At worse, Bohol should be at par with our competitors otherwise we lose the game.


SUFFERING FROM SWELTERING heat and dehydration these days? Well, PAGASA officially announced that rainy days will start in the last week of May. Rejoice?

Not really. Because along with that was stated that the country will suffer the dreaded dry spell called “El Nino” from July 2023 to March 2024. There will be rain but not enough rainfall for our own crops. An 80% chance of probability.

The Malinao, Bayongan,  Capayas and Talibon water dams may be full now- wait till planting season comes and the drought sets in. Generally, Agriculture as one of the three pillars of the economy has performed in an anemic manner for years- that is why the Philippines continue to import basic agricultural goods.

Is it premature to declare Bohol in a “state of calamity” based on the PAGASA forecast? Definitely, cloud-seeding is a must but expensive- an early estimate of P10-M for the first seeding alone. And the news has it that only government, no private planes may now be used for this purpose, limiting our options.

Meantime, there is no way we can have different results in agriculture productivity if we do the same things we have done in the past. Let us take advantage, then, of the visit of the Philippine Center for Post Harvest Research team which will teach Boholanos the skills upgrading and the effects of mechanization.

At a certain amount of hectarage, only mechanization can make the field productive. No more post-card images of farmers bending their backs planting and harvesting rice as in the past because contrary to the school songs we have been singing- “planting rice is never fun.”

The timing of rice, corn and vegetable seeds distribution must be pre-programmed not do it only when they are available. Because we have an abnormal climate where if there is no “El Nino”, then there are storms ravaging the plantation horribly.

The pro-active and mitigation efforts should be tailored fit and perhaps drawn partly from the recent commitment of DA-7 for Bohol: P270-M for rice, P21M for corn, HDCDP P10M, and organic agri program at P500,000. That’s a total of P336M.

Climate change is upon us- we just have to learn how to fight back and survive.

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