• British warden concerned DOT may not be doing enough for Bohol

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    A British community warden echoed the concerns of the business sector in Bohol about the Department of Tourism’s inaction in reawakening the tourism of the province after being devastated by the 7.2-magnitude earthquake two weeks ago.

    “Our worry is that the DOT is not doing enough. Their websites presently only carry a message of condolence,” David Baillie, a Bohol-based businessman who is also the British embassy’s community warden there, told The Manila Times in an email.

    To help in boosting Bohol’s tourism sector, Baillie and his group led the publication of an advertisement on a major newspaper, calling on travelers to visit the province once more.

    The British Embassy in Manila earlier said any views expressed by Baillie does not reflect that of the UK government. A warden is a volunteer in a community who is tasked to inform British citizens there about the embassy’s functions and services.

    The warden, the President of the Alona Beach Community Association Inc. in Panglao and the co-owner of a 12-room pension house, said it is time for the government to focus on attracting tourists to the province again.

    Since the October 15 quake, more than 50 percent of expected tourists cancelled their reservations and bookings to Panglao in the coming high season of November to May. This “trend,” Baillie said, needs to be reversed.

    The culprit, he pointed out, is the foreign media who “told the world” that Bohol was already destroyed when only about 20 percent of it was damaged heavily by the earthquake.

    In his pension house alone, the lack of visitors pushed him to cut the daily staff from three to just one.

    Not only is the province’s tourist sector affected by the lack of information that Bohol is ready to accept tourists again, Baillie said. Local jobs are being cut as well because there are no bookings in resorts and hotels, he added.

    He also urged Filipinos to visit Bohol since it can send the message across that it is safe to travel there again. Baillie noted that 65 percent of tourists in Bohol are Filipinos while 35 percent comprises foreign travelers.

    “If we can get the Filipinos to come now in big numbers, it will help the local economy enormously to get back on its feet,” he said. BERNICE CAMILLE V. BAUZON

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