BENGUET Governor Melchor Diclas stressed the need for the Department of Tourism (DOT) and City Government of Baguio to coordinate with the local government units of Benguet for the opening of tourism.
Over the weekend, the governor revealed he was never invited for talks on the plans to open Baguio for tourism next week.
“Actually, walang official communication na ininvite ang Benguet. Hindi ko lang alam kung may pinagsabihan sila na ininvite iyong mga mayors natin pero sa akin, personally, wala akong nareceive na invitation," Diclas said.
Benguet caretaker Eric Go Yap underscored the importance of coordination with the La Trinidad-Itogon–Sablan–Tuba and Tublay towns and lamented the non-inclusion of the province in meetings, even as a courtesy.
“Lahat inimbita na, eh, pati mga regional, pero ang Benguet hindi pinatawag bilang courtesy. So parang nakalimutan siguro ni Secretary Puyat na hindi ka makakadating ng Baguio kung hindi ka dadaan ng Benguet. Iyon lang iyong sa akin. Hindi maganda. Sana ininvite niya rin ang Benguet,“ Yap said.
Both the governor and the Benguet caretaker agree tourism is important as it is a form of livelihood for many, however, remains firm the province will not open its doors if it is not ready.
On September 1, during the 111th Baguio Charter Anniversary, Mayor Benjamin Magalong, DOT Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat and officials from the Ilocos Region inked a memorandum of agreement and support to open tourism creating tourism bubbles in a bid to gradually opening economies in Baguio, La Union, Pangasinan, Ilocos Sur and Ilocos Norte.
Previously, Benguet mayors said they were not told of the opening of Baguio's tourism and was surprised that a memorandum of understanding was already made between the City Government and Ilocos provinces without consulting Benguet.
It was only on Monday, September 14, the tourism department held an emergency meeting with the officials from La Trinidad-Itogon-Sablan-Tuba-Tublay.
According to Benguet mayors, the agency presented the guidelines on the entry of tourists and the requirements including the certification to operate given by DOT-CAR. The tourists will have to directly follow Baguio tour packages and LISTT towns are not included in the itinerary as they are not yet open for tourists.
Benguet’s capital town Mayor Romeo Salda said for La Trinidad, they will implement stricter border controls at checkpoints to ensure tourists will not still cross borders in the planned opening of tourism in Baguio City.
Salda added as per tour packages, the itinerary for tourists is only for Baguio City, with La Trinidad not yet open for tourism.