AS A RESPECTED and influential figure in the field of tourism, Gov. Edgar M. Chatto spoke before international tourism stakeholders during the “Second International Conference on Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality” at the Holy Name University in Dampas Friday evening.

He laid out in his powerpoint presentation the State of Tourism Development in the Province of Bohol where he explained its development framework, tourism development profile, milestones in tourism development and the strategies sustaining the province’s development.

He showed to his attentive audience, whose eyes were riveted to the screen, how Bohol’s vision and mission statements have guided its leaders through the years in sustaining programs and projects that are beneficial to the people and thus aided in the province’s continuous development.

To cite a few figures, Bohol had a 66% growth in tourist arrivals in 2016, with an average yearly increase of 39% for the last three years.

The province had a 20% increase in accommodation facilities in 2016, with an average yearly increase of 18%, also, for the last three years.

Number of flights have increased by 21% in 2017.

In fact, we have a steady increase of passenger traffic with an average annual increase of 8% for incoming and outgoing passengers.

According to data, shipcalls are also up by 16% and passenger traffic increased by 13% as compared to its 2015 figures.

Looking back, on May 9, 2007, the passage of Republic Act (RA 9446), otherwise known as Chatto Law, declaring Bohol as an Eco-Cultural Tourism Zone, has set the governing principles for the planning, development, promotion and management of tourism zones in the country.

Quite similarly, the signing of RA 9593 in May of 2009, which is the Tourism Act of 2009, or the Chatto-Gordon Law, has since provided the establishment of tourism infrastructure program for access roads, airports, seaports and other infrastructure requirements identified in tourism areas since its implementation, with the Department of Tourism, Department of Public Works and Highways and the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOT-DPWH-DOTC) convergence.

Gov. Chatto divulged to his international audience that constant developments are happening in tourism sites and attractions in the province with the constant and all-out support from the national government.

Moreover, the Great Bohol Earthquake of 2013 has prompted the formulation of Bohol’s Tourism Recovery Plan.

But even then, Bohol has already had participated in Travel Expos, Travel Marts and Eco-Tourism conferences.

National agencies, like the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) and the National Museum, among others, have immensely helped in the province’s extensive recovery program.

To note, the Abu Sayyaf intrusion in 2017 did nothing to stop the Boholanos from aiming higher and achieving its long-lived goals.

Despite the short-lived intrusion, Bohol had successfully hosted Association of Southeast

Asian Nations (ASEAN) meetings here, proving that a handful of terrorists are no match for the close-knit, peace-loving albeit brave 1.3M Boholanos.

The “Behold Bohol” Brand, where CNN helped in its conceptualization and promotion, has helped a lot in creating quite a stir in the field of tourism.

Aside from its ASEAN hostings, major national and international events were also brought here by their respective organizers, knowing full well that the Provincial Leadership could very well handle their events efficiently, coupled with the needed finesse needed for such huge gatherings of well-known personalities.

Aside from each town’s unique tourism attractions, Boholanos are avid social media users and followers, which no doubt has helped a lot in promoting the province’s world-class tourism sites; thus, aiding a lot in making known its various and colorful festivals which could be compared to, and now maybe being at par with, internationally-known festivals in other countries.

The apparent increase in Bohol’s sea and land trips, and even in its domestic and international flights, is more than enough to tell the world that it is now ripe for new and larger investments, with better opportunities and incentives awaiting for local and foreign investors.

Bohol’s Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) with local and global big names is a testament of how its Provincial Leadership most efficiently handles programs and projects, motivating and inviting even bigger investments and multi-million foreign aids.

Gov. Chatto’s leadership and governance style in which national agencies are given incentives so they could put up branches here is being largely appreciated, not only by the Boholanos, but even by potential investors, local and foreign.

Bohol’s multi-sector participation in its local provincial meetings is one sure-fire way of getting the full support of different organizations, even tribal communities.

Visualizing Bohol as a future giant in various aspects of development has prompted Gov. Chatto to pool the resources of all pertinent sectors in Bohol to prepare for the huge influx of investments, especially right after the start of operations of the New Bohol Airport by requesting the academe to open up courses appropriate for the looming demand of graduates suited for upcoming job opportunities.

The Province of Bohol’s overarching development framework of InSPIRED HEAT IT Bohol hatched by Gov. Chatto himself has helped a lot, not only in providing a clear-cut path for development, but especially in helping thousands of Boholanos avail of government assistance which has paved the way for the improvement of living conditions and livelihood programs in the province.

Top ten multi-million priority projects, with assurance of completion from the national government, like the One Bohol Power, Bulk Water Supply and the much-awaited Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas branch here, among others, are also what keep Boholanos going amid challenges.

However, Gov. Chatto reminds everyone that “at the end of the day, we must always be guided by our belief in sustainable development and sustainable tourism.”

Thus, he explained that according to the 1987 Brundtland Report, “sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

While on the other hand, the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) issued this statement in 2005: “sustainable tourism is tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities.”