The Philippines’ tourism board wants you to know Bohol. I want you to know that you should not go to Bohol. That’s the issue with tourism boards, fulfilling their duty to increase awareness and tourism in a country they have to pick and choose destinations. In a country like the Philippines, with thousands of beautiful beaches, unparalleled natural scenery and age-old culture it has to be hard to choose what to promote.
These are the Chocolate Hills, there you’ve seen them, cross that off your list…
I think the leaders of the Philippines tourism board got together and realized their country would be overrun with tourists if they showed the magnificence which is the Philippines, then it hit them: let’s promote Bohol, it’s good enough to get people to come, but so mediocre that we won’t have to worry about tourism ruining our truly great places…
Never underestimate the power of prayer. By dedicating every taxi to Catholicism, Bohol has ascended in the Philippines’ tourist brochures.
That must be it; the tourism board actually wants to send you to the least interesting place in their country. It would be like the starting an USA tourism campaign featuring Des Moines. “Come to Des Moines, it’s so ordinary there’s nothing not to like.” That’s the only possible reason Bohol is promoted so much, “Bohol, it doesn’t quite suck.” Sure there are some interesting things, geologists will be fascinated by the Chocolate Hills, Steven Spielberg fans can see the real life inspiration for E.T., and beach goers can get nice-but-not-great beaches on Panglao Island. With assets like these it’s clear the board realized Bohol had just enough to promote, but needed all the marketing help it could get.
OK, these little guys are pretty cool. The Tarsier was the inspiration for E.T. and clearly looks like other fictional characters such as the Gremlins.
Bohol does have decent tourist infrastructure unlike much of the Philippines, but also brings the annoyances of tourist destinations: touts and tourist pricing. Getting around Bohol is more expensive than the distances justify, but renting a motorcycle is reasonably priced within the main city of Tagbilaran. Meals, hotels and other services can be unreasonably priced (by Philippines standards) on Panglao island, as is getting to Panglao itself. The bright spot was the incredible, affordable, roast chicken and pork (learn more here). After spending five days touring much of Bohol and Panglao we were consistently underwhelmed.
The reality is that the Philippines are filled with incredible places. From the Cordillera of Luzon, to the reefs of Coron, the wilderness of Palawan, the culture of Negros, and the world’s #1 beach in Boracay, there are dozens of places of which are better than Bohol. In the brevity of human life there is no reason to ever set foot on Bohol. The tourist board may be spending it’s money to push Bohol, but don’t become a victim of marketing: visit the Philippines yes, visit Bohol, no.