A tale of two divergent tourism plans

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A tale of two divergent tourism plans
OFF TANGENT By Aven Piramide (The Freeman)
Updated February 11, 2010 12:00 AM

In the last few months, I had been shuttling between Cebu and Bohol, on one hand and between Cebu and Southern Leyte, on the other hand. No matter how inconsequential my uneducated observation may be, I cannot help but note the wide gap in the development of the tourism industry between Bohol and Southern Leyte.

I noticed this distortion even from one simple indicator – sea travel. What may catch anyone’s attention is the fact that Bohol, my province of birth, is very much accessible compared to Southern Leyte, where we do a modest business. There are many seaports serving the Boholanos that anytime of the day this province can be reached from Cebu. The frequency of fast crafts servicing Tagbilaran is phenomenal. There are trips early morning, noontime, and evening, and in air conditioned comfort. Still, their percentage of passenger loads, travel season or not, appears to be satisfactorily high as to support the industry.

There are also boats calling other Bohol ports. I understand that the traffic alone between Tubigon town and Cebu of one trip every two hours should pay the operators of sea vessels plying this route a reasonable return of investment or they would have closed shop. Then, there too, is the port of Getafe which receives daily its good share of the volume of passengers coming from and going to Cebu. And still another company operating from Cebu City, calls the port Ubay.

By my last count, there are at least six Cebu-based shipping companies making about 12 daily trips to and from Bohol. Many of these bottoms are of the Roll-on-Roll-off type. The roro vessels make it more comfortable for people to travel to Bohol because, while in that island province, they can drive their own vehicles.

In most of these sea travels to and from Bohol, tourists comprise an appreciable percentage.

To compare, only one shipping company seems to be calling the port of Maasin City, in Southern Leyte. In fact, until lately, Maasin City was not the end destination. It just happened to be along the way of vessels headed for the northeastern part of Mindanao. And we have no choice but take only an evening trip. That is it. There are no daytime travels.

In the case of trips coming from Maasin City, the story is worse. The boats departing from that capital Southern Leyte city to Cebu, really come from Surigao City. They just drop by Maasin to pick up their passengers. Because these vessels leave Surigao City at about 6 or 7 o’clock in the evening, they drop their anchors at Maasin at around midnight. Sadly, waiting passengers have just to be seated at the port terminal.

Even then, if one takes great effort to count the tourists, foreign or local, on board these vessels to and from Southern Leyte, he may only be dismayed by the resulting figures.

Tourism must be far developed in Bohol than in Southern Leyte. It must be a credit to the men and women at the helm of that island’s tourism program that they attract tourists in great quantities. Caucasians, and chink-eyed Asians, come in huge flocks. Balikbayanas are not to be outdone. When I lately hosted few of them from California, they made it clear to me that Bohol was, to them, a must destination. Their account of what to expect from that island emphasized the success of Bohol officials in putting their province on the tourism map of must see.

On the other hand, I had the opportunity to talk to a much smaller number of Europeans from some dive points off our town of Padre Burgos, in Southern Leyte. No, they did not come to visit Limasawa, (formerly a barangay of Padre Burgos) the site of the first Catholic mass in the Philippines. Rather, they came on the word of mouth of fellow Europeans that the underwater sights there fare better to the best in the world! In glowing accounts, they spoke of their experience.

As regards developing their tourism potentials, there is an obvious disparity between these two provinces. The officials of Southern Leyte can learn something from the efforts of Boholanos. We must remember that tourism brings in a lot of economic multipliers and unless Southern Leytenos raise their bar of achievements, they can only lean on their poor agriculture to sustain them.


Sogod Bay Scuba Resort said...

The question is when is the Southern leyte Government going to improve tourism within Southern Leyte.

Phil McGuire
Sogod Bay Scuba Resort

Pinoyborian said...

Phil, thanks for dropping by.

Yes, I agree with you. Southern Leyte government should lead on this.

I had to agree with the observations on the ports though. I've been to Maasin and the port there is way better than Tagbilaran in the late 1980s. I should know because I was in university in Cebu in 1987-1991 when Tagbilaran port was really bad.

When things got better with Tagbilaran port in the late 90s, tourism picked up, too. Fastcraft companies had day trip tour packages, which helped boost tourism.

Of course, Bohol provincial government had a big role on it's tourism boom but it has to be said that it was a multi-sectoral effort as well. The local private and third sectors (NGOs) had a strong influence on government.

Pinoyborian said...

Oooops, I should have said "mid 90s."


This is exactly what i was pleading whoever wins in southern leyte.

1. the airport in maasin city is not operational. I dont know why but i guess our LGUs must do something about it NOW.

2. during my college years up to 1997 before i left maasin, i could still recall some shipping lines in maasin (cokaliong, trans asia, etc) plus fast craft like waterjet and supercat. Where are they now? I went home last feb 5 after 12 years and i was saddened coz inspite that maasin is booming but as i was looking at the port area like a ghost :(

Thus, i am envy but fervently hope LGU's would do something good for my little beautiful city.

Anonymous said...

Leave P Burgos and the rest of Southern Leyte alone....it is a slice of heaven on earth so dont bring any more tourist than already come or you will ruin the place. I own land in P Burgos and the last thing I want to see is more 'cano's messing the place up

Pinoyborian said...

Anonymous, it's not up to me, mate. If P Burgos is beautiful, why stop people (even if different race) from enjoying it? Lobby for good laws to limit access and good luck on it.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, but comparing Tagbilaran (a nice provincial city) and Maasin (at best a small provincial town) is ridiculous. Bohol definately has a good tourism culture including lots of interesting sites plus great scuba diving. Very comparable in many respects to Dumaguete in Negros Oriental. S Leyte has good diving but too few resorts, too little infrastructure and a local Mafia.

Aven A. Piramide said...

I am inviting everyone to visit my blog.
I would like to hear your own off tangent views.

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