The lethal watch over nCov cases continues without letup, with social costs rising. Countries like ours — phenomenally with scant contribution in the listup — have not been spared from tourism drawdowns, as places that used to lure in droves of tourists have inexplicably gone dry, in a manner of speaking. As of todate, 3,300 fatalities have been accounted for while 95,000 persons are under the infected roster. Truly, it’s a small listing, juxtaposed against the world’s ballooning population.
But, the countdown should still be a source of anxiety if not of fright. Tourism cancellations are plaguing the travel and hotel sectors, layoff of tourism workers is on the ascend, though still in levels not vulnerable to closure. Just recently, the region’s tourism officials headed by RD Jovy Ganongan have pointed out “to push for new frontiers”, precisely parallel to what in recent months we’ve been clamoring for, long before nCov became a household dreadful word. About time, we said, as definitely traditional strategies may no longer work in such times of crowd-drawing restrictions. About time, one would be tempted to say, based on historical experiences that have been the bane of locales these past several years.
Regardless what nCov conjures, it still is of utmost importance that tourism planners pay heed to something that may yet re-energize what has long been the bread-and-butter strategies that have traditionally been used to bring in “the crowds”. Just last December, as Baguio celebrated An Enchanting Christmastime, the city felt what over-tourism may have meant. Traffic jams here and everywhere, trash thrown every which way, congestion causing much of the vehicular crawl on roads — name it, just about everything ill had been blurted out in sheer despair and exasperation.
And yet, tourism has been the bread-and-butter of Baguio’s rapidly growing economy, perhaps second only to education. What to do next is the agenda that Nature Tourism and other new tourism products, if that may well be the term, to purposely bring about regulation in what kind of tourists we can draw in (the quality kind) and what kind of attractions we can bring them, without risking damage to things sacred, cherished, or respected. Simply, we’re talking about opportunities waiting to be harnessed, in terms of access that collaborative efforts can very well tap.
When we check this out against on-the-ground reality, it plainly tells us that Baguio’s natural environment — what remains of the once lush greenery all-around anyway — can serve as the strategic selling proposition for tourist business stakeholders can emphasize, which was what was done last Christmastime. To our chagrin, echoing what oldtimers have cajoled us, including the onslaught brought about by tourists who are just about mindless of the havoc they themselves have partly caused.
Yes dearie, it’s been always cleanup time after the last strollers have gone. Indeed, caring for the environment from the tourist side takes time, but most importantly too by ourselves. Baguio’s forest — said to be diminishing — and what represents them, actually what tourists get to see, feel, and experience once here — the forest canopy, the garden parks, the luscious floral resources do need a great deal of caring.
But, as emphasized, it takes a good deal of time episodes that are neither here and now. Because, what had remained is merely the depleted scanty belongings of a once nurtured past,
themselves in swift deterioration — the mountains blossoming of sheltering houses instead of the majestic pine stands of trees struggling to reach the skies.
Nature tourism is not just the new initiative. There are others — eco-tourism, agri-tourism, medical tourism, gastronomic tourism, cultural tourism — name it, there’s just quite a load of new attractions or assets that can be whipped up in a delectable dish enough to draw in the responsible tourists anytime at all.
As for those whose self-discipline just goes haywire when in other places, it’s time to disperse them somewhere else. Let them imbibe what they experience the hard way, in the discomfort behind bars. For us locals, let’s walk the talk, let’s walk on by, let’s be the first to walk it out. Here we are talking of Nature Tourism, here we are scoping the landscape of frontiers unexplored, grounds unbroken, trails untrod. Here we are, hoping that tourists will continue to trek up here simply because there’s no place like Baguio, simply because Baguio remains uniquely Baguio, a melting pot of tribally fused cultures in harmonized existence with the old and the once young in terms of ethnicity.
Tourism frontiers, anyone?