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Bohol Tourism Disaster
« on: July 16, 2007, 08:56:01 AM »
Written by Rey Anthony Chiu
Bohol Sunday Post newspaper

House Tourism Committee Chair and Bohol Representative Edgar M. Chatto shifted into gear a mechanism that would avert a potential disaster in Bohol and the national tourism efforts.

A few weeks ago, the Regional Office of the Land Transportation Office (LTO) through its flying squad conducted lightning spot-checks on tour vans serving tourists in Bohol. The move is to put on the heat in the government's crackdown on colorum van operators competing with legitimate tour operators here.

In the crackdown however, colorum van operators cried foul as they alleged that they are in fact willing and have initiated moves to get tourist franchise for their fleet only to be turned down by the Land Transport Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) in the absence of a Department of Tourism (DOT) endorsement.
          
DOT however has accordingly suspended the granting of franchise endorsements as per memorandum circular from the DOT Central Office.

Faced with no option while risking the impounding of van units operating sans a tourist franchise, local transport providers have aired their intent to stop running the famed Bohol countryside tours until they can get their franchises.

The issue becomes a complicated matter as in Bohol, only very few units have valid franchises those that have are either cars or old units previously bought with franchises, says transport fleet operator who was turned down by the LTFRB regional office.

Reports have surfaced that the local LTO has already impounded tour vans caught operating without a valid franchise.

The same reports bared that an impounded van could only be released as soon as the operator can show a franchise.

"How could we get one when the regional offices have suspended releasing them?" the operator who asked not to be names asked.

The prospect of tour transport providers stopping services for a day could deal a devastating blow into the Bohol tourism promotion efforts, Chatto said during an exclusive interview in Quezon City Friday.

With the obtaining situation, the young legislator burned his phone lines to contact DOT Regional Director Dawnie Roa, DOT secretary Ace Durano to call for a meeting tomorrow to resolve the issue.

Chatto said it was his first time to hear about the problem and also learned that the DOT sec. Durano was only appraised of the situation when he called.

Asked for possible intervention, he said he is going to work out a way where the DOT could talk about the fact that it indeed has suspended the granting of franchises nationwide.

"We hope to find the reason why the DOT has suspended the franchises, and there must be some reasons for their doing so," he said.

After the meeting on Monday, Rep. Chatto said he is confident they can work a way with the regional DOT to find a long term solution to the issue.

DOT Dir. Roa told Chatto that there are also accredited tour operators with valid franchises in Bohol, but admitted their vans may not be enough to cater to all the guests arriving to tour around Bohol.

"From Monday meeting's outcome, we can then coordinate with DOT to meet with Department of Transportation and Communication Secretary Leandro Mondoza to resolve the problem.

With this, Chatto calls for more inputs regarding the issue so he could better represent the people and bring the government as responsive to the needs of the people. (rachiu/PIA, July 15, 2007)

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