Eco-Cultural tourism was an unthinkable word, until the Boholanos showed us what it is
Entirely packaging tourism that is a spin-off from the traditional definitions, Bohol's eco-tourism has made it a model for the country, admits Secretary Joseph Ace Durano, during awarding ceremonies of the Department of Tourism (DOT) Turismo Mismo grantees in Magtangtang Danao, Bohol.
"Even at a time when eco-tourism was not crafted yet, the Boholanos were able to define it," he said after going through the Eco, Educational, Extreme Adventure Tourism (EAT) in Danao.
The eco-tourism concept is one where there is responsible travel to nature areas, doing activities like birdwatching, caving, farm visits and rice field walks, kayaking or simply sightseeing.
In Danao, local officials led by Mayor Thomas Louis Gonzaga also put in a twist in their adventure tourism by introducing river trekking, tyrolean traverse, rappelling, bouldering, rock and root climbing and even bungee jumping.
The concept is to integrate all these in a huge nature park which has been the base camp of a revered Boholano hero; Francisco Dagohoy, while instilling in the tourists' mind the idea of preserving nature, the natural landscape, the watershed, the forest ecosystem and the town's history and cultural heritage, said a billboard at the park's jump-off point.
In fact, even Bohol Representative Edgar Chatto also confessed that when the House of Representatives deliberated on the bid for Bohol to be declared an eco-cultural tourism destination in the country, legislators called it a misnomer.
Legislators said [being] cultural also encompasses the ecology and the environment.
Chatto said he argued that it took the Boholanos about seven months to craft the vision for Bohol, and eco-cultural tourism is what they meant.
He said the House legislators finally agreed to adopt the term, after the local representative detailed the meaning of the word according to the Boholanos.
Chatto, who was a vice governor then was a key instrument in the crafting of Bohol's tourism vision as a province.
On eco-tourism, Durano asserts that Danao Bohol's tourism direction is basically what the DOT's Turismo Mismo is all about.
The department spun a campaign of not just giving people jobs, which seems to be superficial, but on giving people livelihood, which would make the projects sustainable.
Turismo Mismo is one where it is the people of the place who benefit from the resources, one he calls as Pilipino Mismo.
In Danao, the DOT brought Grass Roots Entrepreneurship and Employment in Tourism (GREET).
Meanwhile, Danao Mayor Gonzaga agreed that tourism to be sustainable should not just be about jobs but about livelihood as well.