Ecotourism project helps Bohol recover from 2013 earthquake

THE EcoTourism Bohol Programme scheduled for launch later this month is one of the major initiatives to repackage the province as a prime eco-cultural and heritage destination.

Assisted by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) the community-focused programme highlights three touristic, non-traditional circuits in Bohol’s west and east coasts, which will be promoted locally and internationally.

Activities include visit to raffia loom weavers, coconut jam makers, organic farms and ancestral homes; ironsmith workshop and mangrove forest adventure; and many other countryside delights.

JICA is also helping to create a tourist-friendly website for the programme while improving road signs and restroom facilities.

Lucas Nunag, chair, Bohol Tourism Council, told TTG Asia e-Daily that the province is moving towards community-based and sustainable ecotourism with the help of many organisations keen on making Bohol rise from the rubble of the 2013 earthquake.

As part of this goal, development partners like JICA, USAID and German development agencies sent Bohol’s tourism stakeholders on a learning journey to Chiang Mai in Thailand and Siem Reap in Cambodia last year. From Chiang Mai, Bohol learned about the development of community-based tourism projects, including homestays and making quality merchandise as souvenir items.

Using the restructuring of Angkor Wat in Siem Reap as a benchmark, Bohol’s development partners will help the province restore its antique churches and religious arts by providing restoration workshops, training craftsmen and employing out-of-school youths.

Nunag also said as Bohol is unspoiled, resorts and hotels are pushing to retain the province’s clean and green environment by incorporating green initiatives into their business and daily grind.

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