WHO clears country of SARS

THE World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the Philippines — Bohol in particular — as free from the dreaded Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

WHO representative Jean Marc Olivé, who spoke before the delegates of the Asia-Pacific Ministerial Summit on Crisis Management in Manila last June 18, said that as of June 12, the Philippines is no longer in the list of countries with probable cases of SARS.

In his presentation, Olivé scored the media for irresponsible and erroneous reporting especially on SARS after news reports surfaced in areas that supposedly have probable SARS cases when there were none at all.

Gov. Erico Aumentado, who was the only governor invited to attend the summit jointly sponsored by the World Tourism Organization and the Department of Tourism, shared Olivé sentiments in what he viewed as “irresponsible journalism” on the part of a local vernacular weekly which headlined last Thursday that there was a probable SARS case in the province.

“Bohol has been, and continues to be, SARS-free,” the governor reiterated.

At the same time, he appealed “to all Boholanos all over the world”, especially those in Canada, USA, Australia and Europe to attend the Tigum Bol-anon sa Tibuok Kalibutan (TBTK) and the biennial Confederation of Boholanos in the USA and Canada convention as well as the Home Reach Balik-Bohol medical mission on July 13-25, 2003.

Olivé said based on the daily monitoring conducted by the WHO, there are only 2 countries left with probable cases of SARS – Beijing in China and Taipei, Taiwan.

At the same time, the WHO has recommended an exit screening for international travelers departing from Toronto in Canada, Beijing, Hongkong and Taipei.

The WHO however, advised travelers to postpone all but essential travels to Beijing.

Olivé admitted that because of SARS, tourism-related incomes of Asian countries went down during the past 3 months.

Bohol, on the other hand, experienced an influx of tourists at the time.

Meanwhile, Aumentado, who also attended the 2nd Sub-regional Workshop on Tourism Statistics and the Elaboration of Tourism Accounts last June 16 and 17, reported that Bohol is now included in the road map of world tourism.

He said he was also elated that the  WOW-Bohol Calendar and the tourism collaterals he brought over with him were a huge success among the delegates, with them clamoring to get a copy of it.

The governor said Tourism Sec. Richard Gordon, in his presentation, repeatedly referred to Bohol and its efforts at maintaining the status as the number one provincial tourist destination in the country.

Even Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is bullish on Bohol’s tourism, putting the Panglao Airport on top of the list of the 3 major airport projects for the country’s tourism development, followed by Coron in Palawan and Caticlan in Aklan – the gateway to Boracay.

“God willing, the Panglao Airport project has a big chance of being included in the 27th Yen Loan Package of the Japan Bank for International Cooperation,” Aumentado said.

Should this be the case, he said the civil works could start by 2006 or 2007.

The crisis management summit was convened to discuss the challenges and threats faced by the tourism industry in the Asia-Pacific region including terrorism, economic recession, war in the Middle East and the SARS epidemic.

Tourism ministers, senior officials of national tourism administrations, representatives from the private sector and international and regional organizations participated in the summit.

The technical workshop on TSA aimed to equip national tourism administrations, national statistics offices, central banks and the tourism private sector in the Asia-Pacific region with techniques and methodologies for developing a system of tourism statistics and satellite accounts to measure the socio-economic impact of tourism.

Aside from the governor, DOT regional director Patria Aurora Roa, Waterfront Cebu general manager Patrick Gregorio and Travel Village GM Walter Sultan attended both conferences as representatives of the Central-Visayas Regional Tourism Council.  


Bron : Bohol Times

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