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TUBLAY, Benguet – The municipal government recently announced the opening of some four tourist spots for residents only from December 24, 2020 to January 6, 2021 to pave the way for the gradual and safe opening of the tourism industry and to contribute in efforts to revive the local economy.
Mayor Armando Lauro stated that the tourist spots that have been cleared by the municipal government to be visited by residents include the AHONDA and Balite tree in barangay Tuel and The Ridge and Polig Berry Far in barangay Ambassador.
Initially, the municipal government identified some 6 tourist destinations in the municipality as possible tourist destinations that will be opened for residents only but some of the owners of the private tourist destinations seem not yet ready to open in consideration of the health and safety of the people who will be constantly visiting the said areas.
Aside from the strict adherence to the prevailing health and safety protocols when visiting the tourist spots, the mayor claimed that gambling and drinking of liquor by the residents is still prohibited while visiting pursuant to the mandate crafted by the municipal inter-agency task force for the management of emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases.
He said that the initial opening of the 4 tourist spots on the aforesaid dates is a dry run that will be subjected to evaluation and assessment as basis for enhancing the guidelines governing the opening of other tourist spots for possible visitors even outside of the municipal.
According to him, tourism is one of the town’s economic drivers that is why efforts are being done by the municipal government in close coordination with the concerned stakeholders and government agencies for the possible reopening of the tourist spots so that there will be movement of people to help spur the local economy.
He admitted that people had been heavily impacted by the prolonged implementation of the Luzonwide enhanced community quarantine over the past 9 months where most of them lost their jobs and economic activities after the tourist spots where they are working ceased operations up to the present.
Mayor Mauro stipulated that it is all back to square one for the town’s tourism industry because the achievements over the past several years were ruined by the implementation of the prolonged lockdown that is why people are now looking for alternative sources of livelihood while awaiting the situation to normalize.
The mayor explained that the tourism stakeholders will try to replicate the successful opening of similar tourist spots in other municipalities of Benguet so that the same will be immediately opened for people coming from Baguio and Benguet so that there will be noticeable economic activities that will allow the gradual recovery of the tourism industry from the effects of the community quarantine that had been prevalent since the idle of March this year and witting whatever will be the decision of the inter-agency task force whether or not to extend the same until early 2021.
Photo by Joseph B. Manzano