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DOT chief to invite more foreign media, tour operators to visit Bohol

Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo vows to invite international media and tour operators from Europe and Asia to visit Central Visayas to disprove notion that the region is "unsafe."

“We will focus on Bohol, and I am here to prove to world that Bohol is a safe haven for tourists and residents alike,” Teo said during the recent dialogue with Bohol stakeholders at The Bellevue Resort in Panglao Island.

She said that she would continue to work closely with the local government units (LGUs) to maintain the steady rise of visitor arrivals at the island province, despite the issuance of travel advisories against the Central Visayas region.

Japan, US, Europe and other countries have issued travel advisories after a recent encounter between security forces and a terror group which took place in Bohol last month.

Teo explained that this had little effect on overall tourism numbers since tourists continued to visit Central Visayas. Moreover, she said that the minor decline in tourism numbers would not affect the target of acquiring 7 million foreign tourist arrivals by yearend.

Just recently, she enjoined the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) to encourage the embassies to coordinate with the government of the concerned country before issuing any travel advisory against it.

Data from the DOT showed that Bohol welcomed 820,640 tourists from January to November of 2016.

South Koreans were the province’s top market with 758,451 tourists for 2016, followed by Japan ‘with 328,954, China with 210,450, and the United States with 169,193.

The Secretary, however, said that she was overwhelmed by the trend on the increase in tourist arrivals after a short-lived backlash on travel advisories.

After the dialogue, Teo visited the Chocolate Hills in Carmen where she met a group of German tourists. Afterwards, she toured the man-made forest and the development on the restoration of Baclayon Church.

Azer N. Parrocha/PNA