TOURS run by the local government have drawn praises from visitors.
Locals are now taking control of the state of tourism in Sagada with Mayor James Pooten working with the private sector to take control of tourism in the town.
Tracey Santiago of Icomos Philippines and advocate of responsible tourism is helping the local government unit (LGU) in crafting the tours while Ben Francia of Francia Digital Marketing is also helping with the new tourism website.
“It is hoped that with all these new initiatives by the LGU, local stakeholders will be able to benefit more from tourism and foot and vehicle traffic can easily be regulated,” Santiago said.
Santiago said the website is being constructed to simplify registration processes for tourism. Eventually, the fee of P50 for tourism registration can soon be paid online including the tour packages.
The LGU runs tours coordinated by the municipality with guides and transport groups which aim to maximize sites and be mindful of carrying capacity of each area.
The mission compound tour for a group of six persons only run at P200 per head which includes visits to the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Girl’s Dormitory, Dr. Scott’s House, Nurses’ Home, St. Theodore’s Hospital, Boy’s Dormitory, Holy Child Orphanage (now St. Joseph Inn and Restaurant) and is inclusive of tour guide and access fee to the Mission Compound.
It is a walking tour with onsite guided stories.
The eco trail tour is also pegged P200 per head for a group of six and will take visitors to a guided trek to the Echo Valley Hanging Coffins, Coffee Farm, Underground River, and Bokong Falls.
A Northern Sagada trail is also crafted pegged at P350 per head for a group of five and includes the jeepney or van rental, tour guide and all access fees.
The tour is a mix of trekking and swimming to the Fidelisan Village, Bomod-ok Falls, Iset and Lantag Rice Terraces.
The Southern Sagada day long tour is pegged at P1,100 per head for a group of 8 which also includes transport and lunch with all access fees to Balugan Village, Angkileng Village, Suyo Hanging Bridge, Mouth of Sumaguing Cave, Lumiang Burial Cave, Sagada Pottery and Sunset Viewing.
For the physically fit, the adventure trail is set at P650 per head for a group of five with a visit to sacred burial site, cave spelunking, and sunset viewing.
The Marlboro Hill – Blue soil Traverse trail starts at 430 a.m. for a group of 10 for trekking and sunrise viewing.
A booking staff will receive all reservations for tour groups per day then assign designated guide and driver.
All tours must be fully paid before the tour and only guides with proper ID will be allowed to do these tours.
Rate cards will be given to visitors to evaluate services of guide and driver and submitted to the Tourism Office after the tour.
Mylu Limjap, marketing head of ABC Philippines, Inc., said “our recent do-it-yourself Sagada trip was fun and unforgettable. The bus we took from Manila was safe and convenient, and the package tours were value for money. I thoroughly enjoyed the Southern Sagada Trail package. Raffy, our local guide’s knowledge, attentiveness, pleasant disposition, wit, and humor added to the already wonderful experience. I felt safe with how our local driver, Earl, drove us to different locations and promptly picked us up.”
Alex Gregorio, a freelance writer added “this was my second trip to Sagada. I took the first trip back in the 1992 independently as well. I have never taken a package tour in any of my travels, as I feel traveling should always be done in a spirit of exploration and adventure. The Mission Compound Tour is the first tour I joined. I understand that it was the first Mission Compound tour, and it was good for a debut effort. The tour can be improved by enriching the script of the guide with the help of a local historical expert (to ensure thoroughness and accuracy) and improving the presentation skills of the guide.”