Gov. Edgar Chatto wants the local tourist bus group to be specific about their opposition to the entry of a huge tourism bus player in the province.
The governor said he was made aware about the position paper of the Bohol Association of Tourist Transport Operators (BATTO) against the supposed entry of the Southwest Tours Inc., a supposedly big player in the tourism transport sector.
Chatto said on Friday during the weekly Kita ug ang Gobernador he wants the BATTO to be more specific on their position against the entry of the bus company, which is an affiliate of Hennan Group.
BATTO has been blocking the entry of the Southwest Tours Inc. and even asked the help of the Sangguniang Panglungsod for its plan. A position paper was sent to the provincial board, said the governor.
The governor wants categorical statements on areas where the entry of Southwest can adversely impact the local tourist transport industry.
He wants the group to come up with key discussion points to be raised with the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).
The governor wants to learn all the facts so he can help convince the LTFRB to stop any entry if indeed the local tourist transport ecosystem is already saturated as claimed by the group.
He said the province would look to prioritize the local transport groups in the operation of the local industry.
BATTO has been trying to parry the entry of the Iloilo-based transportation company, at the same time, calling for the entry of the non-Bohol based transportation companies to operate in the province.
Former Panglao mayor Doloreich Dumaluan, who is acting as the group’s coordinator, said local tourist transport operators would do everything to oppose the entry of non-local transport groups.
Entry of the bigger competitors will severely impact the local transport businesses, especially the smaller ones, which offer transport services to tourists visiting Bohol.
He said the local tourist transport operators have enough transport units to accommodate the tourists visiting the province.
Reports have it; there are about 700 vehicles available to serve the tourist in Bohol.
There are some unregistered, or so-called colurum, vehicles.
Reports said Southwest Tours have already secured a business permit from Panglao town government.
The bus company has been busy securing the necessary permits to allow operations in the province.
The firm is aligned with the Hennan Group of Resorts and operates primarily in Boracay.
BATTO wants the provincial government implement a “Bohol-first” policy for the tourism transport industry.
The group has submitted its position paper to the LTFRB and the Department of Transportation (DoTr).
The position of the group there is no need for additional players since there are enough units to service the tourists.
Reports said Southwest Tours has about 1,000 units of various vehicles to service the tourists.
The bus company has been lured to operate in the province after seeing the potential of the province to draw more tourists with the impending start of operations of the New Bohol Airport.
The New Bohol Airport is scheduled to start commercial operations by August of 2018.
BATTO is an organization made up of various transport cooperatives and associations based in Bohol.
The tourism transport industry is a key component of the tourism industry in Bohol, which has become a major economic driver. (Dave S. Albarado)