Monday, March 17, 2014

DOT-3 pushes community-based rural tourism in Bulacan

by Dino Balabo

MALOLOS CITY—A mountain gorge sliced by the Balaong River lined with natural limestone formations, Biak-na-Bato National Park in San Miguel town provides an eco-adventure steeped in history. 

It is also home to dozens of caves, many of which were used as conference rooms, clinics, armories and sleeping quarters of revolutionaries led by Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo over a century ago. In the nearby mountain town of Donya Remedios Trinidad, magnificent and well preserved caves can be found along with a number of waterfalls.

These are only some of the potential tourist destinations in eastern Bulacan that must further be developed according to Ronnie Tiotuico, director of the Department of Tourism for Central Luzon (DOT-3).

He said that domestic and foreign tourists are now looking for destinations that are natural and can provide more adventure which are usually located in rural areas.

“Rural towns and villages have better tourism potentials than their counterparts in urban areas like cities,” Tiotuico said. This came as DOT- 3 pushed for the development of community- based rural tourism (CBRT) which focuses on potentials of villages in the region. Tiotuico said that CBRT will generate livelihood and additional income to rural families.

“All you need is for a group, look for a place here in Bulacan, talk to the leaders in the community, teach them how to manage tourism and you will improve quality of lives in far flung barangays,” Tiotuico told hundreds of students who participated in a symposium here dubbed as “Bulacan for Every Juan.”

The said symposium was organized by Tourism students of the Bulacan State University (BulSU). Tiotuico explained the tourism potentials include local products, culture, sceneries and even food.

He said that DOTIII did the same in Barangay Sta. Juliana in Capas, Tarlac Erwin Valenzuela, president of the Bulacan Tourism Convention and Visitors Bureau (BTCVB) and an active adventure tourism guide, affirmed what Tiotuico said, citing the many visitors he brought to Biak-Na-Bato National park and caves in DRT town.

He said that aside from appreciating natural ecology, many tourists now are into adventure like rock and mountain climbing, trekking and cave exploration. Rosie Bautista, the municipal tourism officer of Baliwag, advised her fellow tourism officers to be always on the lookout for tourism potentials in their localities.

“There are many places that we can offer to domestic and international tourists, we just need to be open-minded and update,” she said, adding that tourism can be as simple as local delicacy, culture and scenery not usually found in other places.

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