Issue of January 5, 2020
     
NEWS
Benguet
 
OPINION
 
 
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Benguet town raise tourist fees for env’tal protection
by Jane B. Cadalig

If they have to choose between inviting more tourists to the town and preserving the environment, they would opt for the latter.

This is why the local government of Bokod, Benguet increased the town’s fees for one of the most famous tourist destinations – Mt. Purgatory.

Bokod Councilor Erik Don Ignacio said this is one of the measures they have arrived at to protect the town’s fragile environment.

In 2019, the town implemented a drastic raise in the fees collected from those participating in the Mt. Purgatory Climb, one of Bokod’s major tourism events.

Among other fees, the local government increased the environmental protection fee to P200 per head from the usual P75 per head.

The permit fee likewise doubled to P150 per head from the usual P75 per head, although the camping fee of P50 per head remained.

The guide fee remained at P500, but the ratio of guide to tourist was lessened to one guide for every four visitor. In 2018, the guide to visitor ratio was one to five at P500.

Fees for day hike was also fixed at P1,000 from the usual range of P750 to P1,000. The porter’s fee of P500 for a maximum of 15 kilos per porter remained, together with the fees for certificates, which is P50 per head.

Ignacio said aside from increasing the environmental fees, they have not been aggressive in inviting tourists to ascend Mt. Purgatory because the income derived by the town from tourist arrivals is not commensurate with the destruction it causes to the environment.

From January to October 2019, a total of 3,398 tourists visited Mt. Purgatory, based on the record of the Municipal Tourism Office.

Ignacio also called on visitors to observe environmental-sensitivity when they are in the town.

He said Mt. Purgatory, a mossy forest, has been subjected to the insensitivity of some visitors, particularly those who organized a motorcycle race traversing the mountain.

Tourism promotion, according to Ignacio has not been the priority of the local government in 2019. The town allotted P745,000 for tourism programs.

Aside from Mt. Purgatory, among the other spots mostly visited in Bokod are the Ambuklao Dam and the hot spring at Daklan. The town has also been holding its Tilapia Festival, in honor of the livelihood provided by the Ambuklao Dam to the town’s fisherfolk.


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