DEPARTMENT of Tourism Undersecretary Arthur Boncato lauded Sagada town for tightening its tourism rules.
Boncato, who leads the department’s Tourism Regulation Coordination & Resource Generation, said the agency is happy with the imposition of rules to guide visitors and govern tourism activities in the town.
The Sagada Municipal Government, under Mayor James Pooten, is positioning the town as a walking town. Sagada, a fifth class town in Mountain Province, is known for its breathtaking views, caves and hanging coffins, among others.
Boncato said the local government was quick to act on the traffic gridlock by drawing up guidelines for tourists and implementing these in December 2018.
Town officials were overwhelmed last year when about 4,000 tourists visited the highland destination.
In his speech during the La Trinidad Strawberry festival on Monday, March 18, Boncato said Sagada provided an example of how to attain sustainable tourism.
Boncato said some DOT personnel are in town to assist the local tourism office and the local government. They were deployed to the town after a meeting in February between Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat and Sagada Mayor James Pooten on plans to make Sagada into a walking town.
The local government is complying with tourism standards, training tour guides, working on the DOT accreditation of hostels and providing proper equipment to over 800 tour guides and six tour guide associations in Sagada.
Under the new guidelines, tours in and around Sagada will be conducted only by the local guides' organizations. Travel agencies, groups, and individuals must register for the tours at the Tourist Information Office.
The new rules also limit the number of tourists allowed per site per day. Those without companios will not be allowed entry. (Maria Elena Catajan)