Sagada faces tourism woes

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet -- A tourism boom has hit the tourist town of Sagada in Mt. Province.

Tracey Santiago, head of secretariat of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) Philippines said the influx of tourists in Sagada is giving locals a tourism problem.

"There will be problems in water supply, occupancy and comfort of both locals and visitors," said Santiago.

Santiago said water sources of the municipality are limited and still needed to irrigate farms in terraces and fields but are being sacrificed for the need of hotels, inns and lodging homes for visitors as the municipality is now on a tourism boom.

Santiago said locals are now trying to craft a sustainable tourism plan for the municipality balancing the influx of tourists and its effects.

Santiago added a plan to confine parking in one area, as well as install checkpoints to determine occupancy and carrying capacity levels of the town are also underway.

Santiago said problems in the past were experienced by the municipality as well as tourists during the 2014 Christmas break, which left tourists with no inns to stay in, forcing a camp out, as well as full occupancy during the Papal visit at the start of the year.

Problems with traffic, water, full occupancy in inns and restaurants are some of the hurdles met in the small town.

"I am not saying that we should not go to Sagada, but, we should time our visit for us to enjoy," added Santiago.

Santiago said the promotion of the film "That Thing Called Tadhana" has helped boost tourism but also compound the problem.

The film featured Sagada's Mt. Kiltepan, and feted the area as a Mecca for healing broken hearts.

A Save Sagada page has been set up over social media, which has become a forum for locals and conversationalists to converge and exchange ideas.

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