Tourism crisis looms if bus line gets suspended

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Friday, December 9, 2011


BAGUIO CITY -- The tourism industry in this city is expected to suffer if the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) rules to suspend operations of a Luzon bus line.

Vice president for the tourism chamber Anthony de Leon said tourism industry in the city will be severely affected if Victory Liner Bus Incorporated’s operations get suspended. “This will affect not only Baguio but also the whole of Luzon,” he said.

A Victory Liner bus from Cagayan Valley bound for Manila figured in a recent accident, causing the LTFRB to intervene and investigate the roadworthiness of the bus line.

But the hearing on the motion for reconsideration filed by the bus line this week was postponed due to the absence of the chairman of the LTFRB hearing the case.

“The hearing is expected to convene again after 15 days but if this falls during the Christmas holidays, it may well be that the hearing will be reset after this month,” de Leon said.

De Leon said a recent survey made by the tourism sector showed Victory Liner has a controlling 53 percent of market shares above all other bus companies plying the Baguio and Luzon routes.

Victory Liner makes 120 trips daily during the peak season, almost working on a 24/7 basis, to ferry passengers to and from Baguio City, de Leon said.

With the annual Baguio Flower Festival in February, the city is expecting the influx of tourists, reason why de Leon and city officials are worried about the possible suspension of the entire Northern Luzon fleet of Victory Liner.

De Leon said talks are now being made with Mayor Maurico Domogan to intercede in the situation in a bid to ensure stability of the local tourism sector.

A letter to tourism secretary has also been sent, seeking his assistance.

City Council committee on tourism chairman Elmer Datuin said he is still waiting for documents to prove there will be indeed suspension of the trips. But assured, if suspension pushes through, he will file a resolution urging the LTFRB to consider its effects on the city’s tourist arrivals.

He said majority of Baguio residents and tourists prefer the bus line compared to other buses in coming up to the Summer Capital.

Other bus companies, he said, plying the Manila to Baguio routes might not be able to accommodate the passengers, especially during the peak season which usually starts December up to May.

The lone air carrier of the Baguio Airport, Sky Pasada, only has twice-a-week trips to the city and is still in the process of revising its trip schedules, commercial airline manager Richard Tanglao said.

La Trinidad tourism committee chairman Councilor Roderick Awingan, meanwhile, said, “Tourism in the municipality relies heavily on the spill of the Baguio tourists.”

He said Baguio tourists usually make La Trinidad their second destination. “The tourism industry of Baguio and La Trinidad are interconnected; if Baguio has a problem, then we will also have problems,” he said.

LTFRB Central Office Executive Director Glenn Zaragosa in an interview with Sun.Star Baguio said the bus firm has been ranked first on the agency’s records as deadliest bus firms plying the provincial routes in the past year with more than 30 road accidents, with some of its drivers and passengers killed.

He said the agency’s only concern is the safety of passengers, especially during the Christmas holidays and other peak months.

Department of Tourism Regional Director Pura Molintas was unavailable for comment on the issue, as she is in a meeting with tourism stakeholders nationwide in Tagaytay. (Ma. Elena Catajan/JM Agreda/Sun.Star Baguio/Sunnex)

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on December 10, 2011.

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