Tourism body met on MP boundary conflicts concerns

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BONTOC, Mountain Province – The Provincial Council for Tourism, Culture and the Arts conducted its meeting to tackle concerns on August 11, 2021 at the Sibley Hall, All Saints Mission here.

Among the salient points during the meeting was the presentation of the Provincial Tourism Development Plan and the boundary conflicts in various municipalities which was raised by Ms. Maria Abad, the Municipal Tourism Action Officer of Sagada.

The presentation of the tourism development plan was facilitated by Tyronne Glenn Lawey, a staff of the Provincial Tourism Office, who emphasized that the plan is dynamic and that suggestions could be made for the betterment of the succeeding plan.

He oriented the participants that the formulation of the provincial tourism development plan involved steps such as the Value Chain Analysis in Tourism, Orientation on Local Tourism Development Planning, site validations, and Problem Tree Analysis.

Maybel Banggawan, the provincial director of the Department of Trade and Industry here was emphatic: the issues and concerns raised in the plan should be acted upon by the Council with the involvement of the agencies concerned.

As a consensus, another meeting will be conducted in a workshop form to thresh out particular concerns the following month or in October.

Robert Pangod, Provincial Administrator of Red Cross – MP Chapter, suggested the inclusion of Basic First Aid and Basic Life Support for tourism stakeholders to attain a business oriented, friendly, and safe tourism environment in the province.

This was supported my Gwen Gaongen, Tourism Consultant of Sabangan, who moved for the crafting of a resolution requesting the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office and Red Cross to cause the conduct of the activity in coordination with the Provincial Tourism Office

Meanwhile, Marites Abad, the Municipal Tourism Action Officer (MTAO) of Sagada, raised in the open forum the issue of boundary conflicts in tourism attractions and spots among municipalities and called for a joint management system.

It is to be noted that Sagada and Bontoc were having conflicts in ownership over Blue Soil and Marlboro mountain for Sagada and Kaman-utek and Kamanbaneng for Bontoc.

A proposition was also voiced out for the joint promotion of both sides over the tourism spots with entries by guides from both sides.

There is a report that the municipal government of Bontoc will fence Kaman-utek or Blue Soil to prevent tourists from Sagada from going there. But the area can be viewed in angles.

Another noted conflict involved the municipalities of Bauko and Sabangan over Mount Polis for Bauko or Mount Oona for Sabangan. Bauko is more advanced in the promotion efforts over the mountain peak.

A more recent case is that of Sadanga over Fuwaas Waterfalls between barangays Belwang and Bekigan that led to the closure of tourism activities in the municipality including trekking to the popular waterfalls.

It is recognized that the conflicts stemmed from the collection of environmental fees or entry fees from tourists.

It was agreed that the matters should be left for the local government units to settle.

The agencies have reported during the meeting their accomplishments with regards to tourism. Mountain Province First District Engineering Office (MPFDEO) reported that tourism roads under the Tourism Road Infrastructure Convergence Program of the Department of Tourism and the agency.

The report was supplemented with the accomplishment of the Mountain Province Second District Engineering Office (MPSDEO) temporarily based in Paracelis. Construction of tourism road are also ongoing, particularly in Cassag-Bacarri-Camparadi-Cawayan-Bruringal-Sinamar road leading to declared tourism destinations such as Makilo Sphinx, Little Chocolate Hills, Waterfalls, and Mabarotbut Mud Spring with an initial allocation for 2021 amount to Thirty Million (P30 Million).

While the other project which is the 1.6 kilometers span of the 15 kilometers Poblacion –Bantay-Buringal road with an allocated amount of P50 Million under the Roll on Roll It program of the Department of Trade and Industry and the DPWH.

The next semestral meeting of the council will be on December 2021. By ROGER SACYATEN