TAGBILARAN CITY – They did it before but failed. Now, the provincial officials are trying to revive a scheme by which the tourists are urged to fill up forms upon their arrival in the province.
This came after provincial board member Atty. Benjie Arcamo expressed concern over the true picture of tourist influx in Bohol, citing a tourist resort owner who said the data of arrivals derive from “hangad langit.”
“And it is very important to us because we are doing tourism marketing programs. In order to have a good target on how to market our tourism services, we should know from whom or to what country we should conduct our marketing activities. That is why, according to him, we should get our own data from tourists coming here in Bohol, Arcamo told his colleagues in the Sangguniang Panlalawigan during their session recently.
He named the tourist resort owner as Dr. Doloreich Dumaluan of Dumaluan Beach Resort in Panglao as the one who’ll provide a form that tourists “should fill up so that we can collect these forms and know ourselves what country or what nationality will visit Bohol often.”
It will be recalled that the provincial government during then Gov. Rene Relampagos launched the scheme for the same purpose of gathering data on tourist arrivals by just “requesting” tourists who took boat or airplane and other mode of transporation to fill up the form.
Sources from tourism industry said that a lot of turists were complaining about the filling up of said forms, many just refused. The campaign did not generate the desired outcome.
Another reliable source said that even tourist operators in the province refused to cooperate for fear that the scheme may have ended up for taxation purposes and it is a common knowledge that establishments, like hotel, pension houses and others are most likely decline to reveal their true or actual number of their guests.
Novice board member Gloria Gementiza, who represents the Philippine Coucnilors League Bohol chapter, disagreed with Arcamo’s claim of “hangad langit” data gathering of arrivals. She said, “As a hotelier, in fairness to the Department of Tourism strikto pa gani sila nga mangayo og data from the establishments. So, I am not in favor nga moingon nga – hangad-langit because the Department of Tourism is monthly, we have to report to them.”
But Arcamo retorted that there a lot of hotels that do not comply with the guidelines of the DOT. “And there are also tourists coming in Bohol who will not book in any hotels, sometimes they will just pass by and go back to Cebu. So, when we say tourists, we have to define what is tourist. Because a simple definition of tourist – any person, not a Boholano, who came to Bohol and stayed overnight.”
Definition of tourists varies. But for the DOT a visitor, as a matter of standard, is considered as tourist if he/she stays overnight, provincial tourism office once said.
Some tour operators considered Bohol as a catchment area for spillover (of tourists) from Cebu City. They called this “day tour” wherein tourists just spend a day to tour around and go back to Cebu in the afternoon.
An example of this is the visit of international cruise ship, they said.
Arcamo exdplained that “But how about if they will not stay overnight and they will just go back to Cebu, do we have a data on that? No, we could not get that from hotels and inns. Accordingly, Mr. Chairman, we should provide and require vessels or airline industries to give or require the passengers or tourists to fill-up some forms so that we will know how many non- Boholanos are coming to Bohol, from where they came from, and how long do they stay in Bohol, and what hotels or inns they are going to be billeted, and all other aspects relative to tourism.”
The matter is now referred to the Committee on Tourism chaired by Board Member Kristine Alexie Tutor, who said it is not yet taken up by her committee. (rvo)