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Bus crash, gov’t–NPA fights cause slump in MP’s tourism
Hanna C. Lacsamana
Mountain Province, 4-13-2014

Mountain Province Gov. Leonard Mayaen admitted tourist arrivals in the province drastically declined in the past two months following the Florida bus tragedy and recent clashes between the members of New Peoples’ Army and military forces in some of its remote towns.

Mayaen said this has been reported by the tourism sector during the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management summit last April 2.

He said the business sector reported the drastic decline as indicated by the reduced number of tourists visiting the past months after the accident.

“Business is not as good as before,” Mayaen said in a press conference a day before Lang-ay Festival’s culminating activity last April 7.

On Feb. 7, a GV Florida bus from Manila carrying tourists fell on a ravine, killing 14 and hurting 32 of its passengers. It was later found out that the ill-fated bus had no permit to operate within the route it traversed.

Mayaen also said few tourists are also able to travel to the province since no buses serve direct trips from Manila to Bontoc and vice versa.

He added he hoped the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board can already approve permits to those willing to service the Manila to Bontoc and vice versa route, but he said it is very unfortunate and surprising that until now no bus company has yet applied for a franchise for a Manila-Bontoc line.

The governor said another reason for the slump in tourist arrivals, local and foreign, is the reportage of clashes between the military forces and NPA members in the province. He confirmed the reports, but said these happened in the outskirts and remote areas. Still, these had discouraged tourist flow.

“While these encounters are in the remote areas of the province, still, it impacts negatively on the entire province.” Mayaen  said although these are isolated cases, it has a big effect to our tourism industry,” he said, adding the province is generally peaceful.

“Tourism is one thing from which the province can earn. We cannot offer factories or invite business groups to the province, so we rely on tourism.”

In addition to its existing tourism programs of the different towns, the governor said the provincial government helps in identifying and improving tourist attractions and supports tourist-drawing activities.

He said there must be a tourist attraction in each town. The province also supports capability-building activities for tourism personnel through exposures in other places in the country that have successful tourism industries.

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