Eye on the Ball: The Dire Need for Strategic Marketing Plan of Baguio

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Wednesday, April 23, 2014


WITH the recent Paniqui - Rosales segment opening of the TPLEx in time for Lent in April 16,you would think that Baguio would have more domestic tourists. Holy Week this year for Baguio, went by unobtrusively, albeit blandly in terms of seat turnovers in restaurants and some industry partners experiencing generally a lower turnout of tourists and guest arrivals compared to last year. The horrendous traffic at NLEX attributed to some room night cancellations for some of our HRAB members. There is also a noted increase in early departure or check outs on Black Saturday to dodge the ghastly traffic flow at NLEX, with others extending their stay a day after Easter to ensure a hassle-free exodus from the Summer Capital.

There is no surprise here considering that after the Panagbenga Festival, there really aren't new attractions or events here in Baguio except for the newly opened Eco Park in Badiwan, Tuba which features the Holy Land and the Dinosaur Island. The theme park is slowly drawing tourists. The Holy Land makes an ideal destination for those who wish to seek solace and do introspection. However, this alone will not suffice to maintain Baguio as a competitive destination. While Baguio makes an ideal respite from the heat of the metropolis, the irresistible lure of the beach and sweet escapes like Camarines Norte and Sur, Coron, El Nido and Boracay remain top favorites of the much younger, adventurous segment of the market. The 2-million annual budget for tourism set by the local government for tourism promotions, events and activities would not simply cut it. Promoting Baguio shouldn’t be just about the Lucky Summer Visitor program. The fact is, we still do not have an acceptable airport infrastructure which would have opened domestic and international gateways for tourists. The next dilemma is Baguio’s continued struggle with its overall image of being overly and poorly developed, along with its environmental degradation due to unmitigated informal settlement; not to mention the horrendous traffic in central business district, piling garbage, numbing ancestral land disputes and apparent procrastination in implementing a comprehensive land use plan and a plethora of issues and domestic challenges.

There is also that compelling need to improve traffic plans to minimize traffic jams that are plaguing several areas and entry points to Baguio. Also, the emphasis on intensifying an effective strategic marketing plan for Baguio as an all-year destination should be put on the front burner by all stakeholders, with the local government leadership and support, and not leaving the private sector hanging out to dry and doing the promotions. Palawan’s budget in tourism promotions is nowhere near Baguio’s marketing and tourism budget.

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Effective governance and legislation should be the focus of our local legislators and executives instead of patronage politics that go against the best interest of the City. Effective governance should be vis-à-vis with strategic solutions to Baguio’s mounting domestic challenges. With some politicians lacking focus and attention on their basic executive and legislative priorities and committees, they keep dipping their hands everywhere and lose sight of their responsibilities. These are the instances when actions are merely meaningless motions instead of focused progression.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on April 24, 2014.

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