Remarks by Acting Mission Director Reed Aeschliman, Turnover of the Bohol Tourism Action Plan to the Province of Bohol

Friday, May 16, 2014

[As Prepared]

Hon. Governor Edgar Chatto, Governor of the Province of Bohol
Hon. Taleb Rifai, Secretary General of the UN World Tourism Organization
Assistant Secretary Rolando Canizal of the Department of Tourism
Ms. Anita Mendiratta of CNN
DOT Director Rowena Montecillo
Atty. Lucas Nunag, President of the Provincial Tourism Council
Distinguished guests, members of the Bohol Provincial Board and private sector partners of Bohol.

Good evening.

On behalf of U.S. Embassy’s United States Agency for International Development USAID/Philippines), it is my honor to be here with all of you this evening. The province of Bohol has a special place in the development work of USAID/Philippines. We have worked together for decades to accelerate Bohol’s economy and transform this historical region from a conflict area to become one of the Philippines’ prime ecotourism destinations.

We started our journey together with the GOLD Project (or Governance and Local Democracy) in the 1990’s. The GOLD project was designed to demonstrate that through decentralized governance, local communities can accelerate development to improve local government operations and community participation in the delivery of public services, including local infrastructure. Today we continue to forge our “partnership for growth” through our project called COMPETE, which advances the competitiveness of Philippine tourism through increased tourism and investments. We aim to increase and facilitate investments, and improve the quality of tourism-related infrastructure.

When this beautiful province was devastated by a 7.2 magnitude earthquake last October 2013, we were one with you in grieving the loss of lives and destruction of public infrastructure, centuries-old churches and livelihood opportunities for the Boholanos. While this event created a scar in the province’s history, we came together as one, which displayed the inspirational resiliency of the Boholanos.

Tourism plays a vital role in Bohol’s local economy and it will continue to do so in the road to recovery. In support of Bohol tourism, USAID will assist in the development of power and water supply to the province. We are conducting a feasibility study for the bulk water supply and sanitation that will serve at least 22 municipalities in the province. This project will support tourism and at the same time improve the quality of water in the province, which will ultimately reduce water borne diseases.

We are also helping to develop branding and marketing strategies for the province to attract more tourists. The branding exercise is a response to the request of the private sector and the provincial government to reposition Bohol as a more exciting destination.

Last April, in partnership with the UNDP, USAID supported the participation of the local leaders of Bohol in their learning experience of disaster response in Albay. This experience is expected to enable the local government units craft policies, procedures and activities that will make their tourism destinations more resilient in the face of a crisis or disaster.

USAID is happy to join this collaboration among the UNWTO, PATA and DOT to craft the Bohol Tourism Action Plan. Through this cooperation, we look forward to a stronger partnership with the UNWTO and PATA, as well as with the private sector. USAID is a committed partner in the implementation of other projects that leverage resources with other development and private sector partners to ensure the the activities identified in the plan are completed.

These projects that I have just laid out for you are just a piece of what USAID is doing to help the country improve its natural resource management and reduce its risk to disaster, all of which builds resilience, encourages investments, protects lives and livelihood, and ultimately creates a prosperous nation that is poised for inclusive, sustainable growth.

On behalf of USAID, I congratulate the Province of Bohol for remaining steadfast in its recovery and rebuilding strategies amidst the challenges it faced. We take pride in this partnership as we look forward to more fruitful endeavors in the years to come.

Maraming Salamat and Magandang Gabi (Thank you and Good evening).


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