Tagbilaran seeks to be a tourism powerhouse and not just a gateway to other places in the province, and it will be using an inclusive and participatory tourism plan.
Last Friday, the city turned over the City Tourism Development Plan to the Department of Tourism outlining the vital actionable steps to promote the city as a key heritage site and strengthening its tourism assets at the same time diversifying other potential assets for tourism.
Mayor John Geesnell Yap turned over the plan to Tourism Regional Director for Central Visayas, Joshur Judd Lanete II and was witnessed by United States Agency of International Development (USAID) mission director Lawrence Hardy II at the Bohol Tropics Resort.
Hardy was on hand to tell the people about the role played by the agency in helping Tagbilaran craft a development plan for tourism.
The city banks on its history and heritage, capitalizing on it as a key tourism asset. USAID was able to help the city government to come up with a tourism strategy in utilizing key tourism assets, focusing on heritage and culture, which may be the first not just in the Philippines but in all of Southeast Asia.
USAID and Tagbilaran’s partnership came about after crafting a plan that focuses on heritage tourism, emphasizing heritage sites, developing new tour circuits and diversify the tourism assets at the same time promote the arts and crafts by artisans from the city, said Hardy.
Hardy said Tagbilaran seeks to become an exciting venue for the meeting, exhibits, and conventions in the region with the heritage offerings in the future.
USAID facilitated consultations with various stakeholders and industry partners in a participatory approach and set the strategic direction of the tourism plan.
The agency, at the same time, continues to support the city’s effort in good governance, including investments in infrastructure, water, and social services.
Hardy said the tourism development plan embodies the future of Tagbilaran detailing actionable steps to promote priority tourism attraction and update needed infrastructure and enhance overall policy environment in tourism governance.
In his speech, Yap thanked USAID for its selfless guidance to the project.
“Today’s gathering is another testament to the pro-active partnership between the City Government and the USAID. The Tourism Development Plan will undoubtedly strengthen our stake in carving our identity in the tourism landscape of Bohol.
“This roadmap will be our guide on how to maximize our physical and natural resources to the fullest. For this and more our sincerest gratitude to the United States government which has been a long-time ally in our developmental efforts,” said Yap.
Yap said the partnership highlights the “development efforts and transformative action the city has taken in recent years.”
At the end of the event at the Bohol Tropics, Hardy and company with crucial city officials went on a heritage tour facilitated by Prof. Marianito Luspo.
The tour covered key sites in the city such as the Plaza Rizal, Casa Rocha House, the residence of Pres. Carlos P. Garcia and ending the tour with a visit to the Balili Heritage House, with history lessons along the way.
Luspo focused on the colonial past and how Tagbilaran is preserving the past via the heritage tour so future generations can appreciate the history and legacy of the city.
Hardy got some glimpses on the architectural influence on the turn of the century as introduced by the Americans.
The tour ended with Hardy joining the Tagbilaran City Chorale in taking part of the Boholano culture of merrymaking as he danced a simple version of the kuradang with City Administrator Edi Borja and other USAID SURGE officials.
The city media bureau said the preparation of the Tourism Development Plan of Tagbilaran City was a rigorous and meaningful journey led by the City Government under the leadership of Yap together with the 13th Sangguniang Panlungsod Committee Chair on Tourism and City Tourism Officer, Shobel Ligalig.
The plan was formed in coordination of the various offices led by the City Tourism, City Events, Culture and Arts and the City Planning and Development.
It was a product of the participation and consultation with the stakeholders from the Provincial Government of Bohol, national government agencies, tourism industry players, academe, civil society organizations, and culture, arts and heritage enthusiasts. The consultations have produced a plan reflective of the values and culture of Tagbilaran City.
Heritage is the centerpiece of the Tourism Development Plan, boasts of an ordinance which has been crafted to oversee heritage conservation and preservation.
The tourism strategy centers on the development of Tagbilaran City’s heritage assets, human resources, and creative hubs.
The strategy will be anchored on policy development formulation through awareness and consensus-building.
Further, the plan seeks the development of creative products and market brand for Tagbilaran will be strengthened.
Hardy was optimistic about the collaborative partnership and committed to assisting Tagbilaran City in attaining its vision for its tourism industry.
DEPARTMENT OF TOURISM’S TAKE ON THE PLAN
Lanete called the plan as a “labor of love” from the city’s tourism leaders, movers, and stakeholders. The project will serve as a framework to guide the tourism effort in the town in the years to come.
The plan will ensure the foothold of the city as one of the country’s prime tourist attractions.
Lanete can’t help but marvel at the achievement made by Tagbilaran in coming up with an actionable development plan for tourism.
He then congratulated the men and women of tourism in the city invested their time and effort to “craft a plan for the betterment of the community and people.”
The new strategic directions to be implemented, Lanete is confident that more success and progress will happen in the tourism sector of Tagbilaran and Bohol well into the next decade.
Lanete hopes the impetus of sustainable and inclusive tourism through the champions of tourism will help spur better economic growth anchored on values with a positive and upbeat outlook that forever define the Filipino.
USAID’s technical assistance for economic growth, health, energy, environment, government, and education aims to help realize the engines of inclusive and resilient growth in key locations in the country such as Tagbilaran.
Tagbilaran and Bohol are undoubtedly among the key economic hubs of the Visayas region, said Hardy.
Tagbilaran is a tourism hub teeming with potentials for growth and development in the region. USAID’s partnership with the province and the city resulted in more competitive tourism and business climate.
The efforts also resulted in better health services and higher quality primary education for the city, Hardy said.
The broad-based economic growth is essential to sustainable long-term development, said the mission director of the USAID.
Hardy said such efforts create the opportunities for impoverished households to raise the standards, providing resources for access to essential services and most importantly enable citizens to chart their own prosperous lives.
USAID helps people to have empowered roles in their economies.
“We work with private sector to spur economic development to benefit all people. Investing in infrastructures such as roads and others critical in boosting the economy and removing barriers to economic growth,” said Hardy.
The USAID has been in Bohol since 1995 to enhance the development capacity of local champions.
One of such heroes is the now Gov. Edgar Chatto who then led government craft a development plan and to make Bohol an eco-tourism destination.
USAID technical assistance helped form the Environment Code of 1998 to sustain the protection and the use of natural resources. (Dave Albarado with reports from the City Media Bureau)