UNITED States Ambassador Philip Goldberg paid a courtesy call at Baguio City Hall Monday morning expressing views on tourism and disaster preparedness with local officials.

Goldberg, who spent the weekend at the Ambassador’s Residence at Camp John Hay meeting with local officials and business leaders in the Cordillera region, shared his views on the city’s booming tourism industry observing the traffic experienced by the city during the peak season.

Mayor Mauricio Domogan, who led city officials in welcoming the US envoy, said the city government has been facing problems of traffic during tourism peak season as Baguio, the former American hill station and city planned by the Americans, was originally built for only 25,000 people.

But as the Summer Capital developed into a regional educational and economic center, he told Goldberg the city’s population has now ballooned to more than 300,000 people resulting in the usual problems of urbanization like traffic and pollution.

While the US envoy did not promise anything to solve the city’s problems on tourism, he said the embassy is studying what help the American government could extend to the city.

The US Ambassador also promised aid on disaster preparedness and mitigation to local responders by American volunteers.

He also promised the continued assistance in maintaining American libraries set up during the time of his predecessors Ambassadors Harry Thomas and Christie Kenney.

Goldberg was welcomed by Domogan and Vice Mayor Daniel Fariñas with the City Council and department heads of the local government who gave him the symbolic key to the city, a gesture done to welcome dignitaries and special guests of the local government.

Domogan said the envoy has been consulting with local officials for possible aid the US government could extend especially to the city whose century-old ties with the Americans cannot be denied.

He said the American government has never failed to extend help to Baguio City especially the sister-cities of Vallejo City in California and Honolulu City in Hawaii whose continued partnership has helped develop the city parks and destinations.

Over the weekend, Goldberg also visited Benguet province led by Governor Nestor Fongwan promising aid for the local vegetable industry. The American envoy also visited the Philippine Military Academy promising continued military exercises under the Visiting Forces Agreement. (JM Agreda)