IJsselstein, Wednesday, 10 May 2006 21:14:27
On May 10, 2001, we registered the domain name bohol.ph (which had been available but unused since October 2000, when the Philippine country domain code become open to all), and the next day the first preliminary version of this web site became available. Today thus marks our fifth anniversary.
Time for looking back and ahead...
When we started with Bohol.ph, we were thought that this wonderful friendly island in the heart of the Visayas was not promoted well enough. Very little was available on the web, or even in guidebooks, and what was there just repeated a few high-lights. We wanted to show the beauty of this often neglected province, in a time when tourist arrivals to Bohol and the Philippines were dramatically declining. Our intended audience was everybody - ranging from potential Western tourists, who may desire to visit the Philippines, Manilans who may prefer a foreign trip to a tour in the province, unaware of what they are missing in their own homeland, to the local Boholano, who often has very little notion of the treasures his beloved province holds.
Our prime motive was and still is the promotion of Bohol. Not just to attract more tourists, but also to promote respect and interest in the cultural and natural heritage of Bohol, and before all the people of Bohol. This also means that we are primarily interested in a socially responsible and environmentally sustainable development of Bohol - the reason we have opposed misguided projects in the past, such as the demolition of traditional houses in Baclayon, and will continue to do so in future.
Things didn't always work out fine. I remember the winter season of 2000/2001, when many places, even those at Alona Beach remained empty, but for a few diving enthusiasts and Filipino-Foreign couples, or in 2002, in the aftermath of 9/11, when the number of arrivals seemed to drop through the bottom. But since, things have gone steadily forwards. Bohol has certainly found itself on the destination short list of many people who never had heard of the place a few years ago, together with such well known Philippine destinations as Porto Galera, Boracay, and Palawan. We feel happy about this.
Because of our work on this web site, we've also been able to support the promotion of Bohol in other ways. One highlight was the visit of the Loboc Children's Choir to the Netherlands, which we helped to organize.
In those five years, Bohol has seen many positive developments. The first time we I went to Panglao, in 1998, Alona beach could only be reached by a few narrow dusty rough roads. Those same roads caused our taxi to have a flat tire a few years later (which was fixed in five minutes by our excellent driver!) Today, it is a smooth 20 minute ride on a nice cemented road. Similarly, no phone would disturb you in most of Bohol, as no phones exists. Today, virtually everywhere people carry and use cell phones. Five years ago, the Dao bus terminal was strangely located in the middle of a wasteland outside the city. Now a new city center is being constructed, complete with a big mall.
In five years time, bohol.ph has also steadily grown, to touch all aspects of Bohol, and provide an introduction to its culture, nature and people, and a wealth of practical information for visitors. But we are not there yet. Our wish list remains long, and includes:
For all this, we will need your help, and invite you to submit articles, stories, and photographs.
Today, the Bohol web site is quite popular. We rank number one in the mayor search engines (Google and Yahoo), for a search for the term Bohol, as well as a couple of other keywords. In April 2006, we had 50.000 visitors, generating 300.000 page views. Of these, 37 percent came from the Philippines, 36 percent from the US and Canada, and the remainder split evenly between Europe, Asia-Pacific and the rest of the world. We believe about 50 percent of our visitors are connected (through family ties or descent) to Bohol, while the remainder are potential visitors to the island.
For those who like to see what Bohol.ph looked like in the past, visit the Internet Wayback Machine.
Meet you all in Bohol, the friendly heart of the Visayas, God's little paradise, and a destination where nature and culture mix to a perfect blend for a holiday for both the active sportsperson, the leisure seeking day-tripper, and cultural aficionado.