Villanueva: Boycott Baguio!

SOCIAL media has become a platform for many advocacies and complaints. It has become a powerful way to influence people’s views and opinions.

Only yesterday, November 2, that I again someone called for the boycott of Baguio as a tourist destination. This caused a stir again in the local social media scene.

This is not the first time someone called for this type of boycott. Their premise is that they are helping a lot Baguio’s economy when they bring tourists to the city, and they boycott would cause a decline in the city’s economy.

The residents’ reaction would surprise non-residents. They actually support the boycott, citing various reasons for the support.

Since the opening of the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway and the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway, travel time to Baguio has been cut by at least 2 hours. It has become more convenient to travel to Baguio especially that tourists are not required to pay anything upon entry to the city, like environmental fees, etc.

Tourist arrivals have definitely increased, and the reality is that tourist-related industries, like hotels, restaurants, souvenir shop, etc. have definitely benefitted from this surge of tourist arrivals.

However, the implicit costs (implied costs that are not accounted in monetary terms), including the negative externalities (adverse effects on third parties not party to the economic transaction) are very high that would make the benefits earned from the tourists lesser or even nonexistent.

One of the reasons is that there will be lesser traffic problems on the city’s main thoroughfares. True enough, if we are to observe that there is a surge in traffic congestion during holidays or long weekends.

The usual travel time from residences say in Bakakeng to the town proper would extend by more than 30 minutes. This would mean losses from man-hours in industries and opportunity costs (cost foregone for choosing another) for being stuck in traffic, rather than using that time for other more income-generating or important work to be done.

Another reason is related to pollution and garbage disposal. Baguio is already polluted as it is. Several years back, a news report came out that Baguio is among the most polluted cities in the country.

Now that travel to the city is easier, tourists can bring their own vehicles and contribute to more the pollution to the already polluted city. And that’s just air pollution, what about noise pollution? That’s another story altogether.

Garbage disposal is again another serious problem. With the about 350,000 population of the city, garbage collection in the city per day is already tons. The additional tourist arrivals to the city would definitely worsen this problem.

The increase in petty crime rates is another reason. The increase in the pedestrian traffic in many congested areas like the public market, Session Road, the night market, etc. entices many scrupulous individuals to commit crimes like pickpocketting and the like. These criminals do not only victimize the visitors but the locals as well.

So, when Baguio people are happy when tourists and “lowlands” people threaten to boycott the city of Baguio, here is what we can say, tourists may be contributing a lot to the city’s economy, but tourism is not our sole bread and butter. There are other industries that support the city’s economy that even if there is a decline in the tourist arrivals, we can still survive.

What the residents are really asking for is that for tourists to respect our city as well. We have laws and ordinances that residents follow by heart, and we would really want that tourists follow them, too.

We love our city that despite the existing problems like garbage, pollution and traffic, we still love it, and we do not welcome tourists who complain a lot about these problems because they themselves contribute further.

We welcome tourists to our city with hospitality and with a warm smile, but if tourists do not respect our culture, our values, our city, then there are 350,000 people willing to take up arms and prevent them from coming to our beloved city.

To the Baguio people, stop the cyberbullying as well. We are better than this. We are a city of values, remember. Let us show them that inasmuch as we love our city, we also have to respect other people’s opinions.
So, keep in mind that respect begets... begets. RESPECT BEGETS RESPECT!
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