THE locals of Sagada have set down some rules to promote responsible tourism in their highland town.
Sagada Mayor James Pooten launched an innovative social media campaign to educate visitors on the do’s and don’ts in the town, highlighting rules on culture and heritage.
As of Monday, April 15, the municipal government has posted on its official Facebook page several photos of Sagada residents with handwritten messages on how visitors should conduct themselves while visiting the town.
A photo posted on Sunday, April 14, shows a male resident with a sign that says: “Please respect the people. Ask permission before taking pictures or video of people, especially the elders. Please don’t expect any of us to pose in traditional clothing for pictures, because we don’t do that.”
The second photo, posted also on Sunday, says: “Please respect our culture. Keep distance from rituals or sites you are told sacred. Do not touch or disturb coffins or burial sites.”
Another photo specifies the dress code and cautions against public displays of affection: “Please be modest. This is a small conservative town and we like it that way. Save the revealing clothing for the beach and the displays of affection for your private space. There is no commercial sex here so don’t waste time looking for it.”
A fourth photo, posted Monday, highlights the need to ensure safety of both the locals and tourists. It also urges visitors to hire only accredited tour guides.
Another photo advocates walking in line with plans to make Sagada a walking town.
“Please walk whenever possible. Walking is an essential part of the Sagada experience. The views are spectacular and you’ll enjoy them on foot than crammed into a metal box,” it says.
Pooten said stakeholders have been working with the local tourism council in crafting the information campaign and coordinating the tours to maintain order in the town especially during peak season.
The mayor also said they were pushing for an online booking and payment scheme for the tours to avoid overbooking and overcrowding.
One photo addresses the plight of restaurant owners when dealing with a fully occupied house: “Please be kind to the people in our kitchens. We do not serve fast food. So please be patient, to get better service, order your food three hours before your meal.” (Maria Elena Catajan)