The horrible traffic jams the general public had to endure during the Yuletide holidays only showed we have not learned a lesson, or we did not take seriously the lessons learned during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The past weeks, Baguio residents and the city’s environment were back to dealing with the pre-pandemic problems – horrendous gridlocks and garbage strewn all over the city.
This is aside from the fact that the minimum health protocols, especially physical distancing, which we religiously complied with for more than two years now, have been disregarded since travel restrictions were lifted in the Summer Capital months ago.
It is unfortunate that all the systems that were put in place at the height of the pandemic have been overlooked. The visitor registration system, which has been a highly laudable initiative if the city is really serious in making sustainable tourism work, proved to be inutile as its purpose has now been reduced to counting the number of tourists coming to the city.
We support the efforts done to help local economy recover, but the city government must strike a balance between money-making and the well-being of residents.
Concerned offices should understand that while residents welcome visitors to Baguio, tourism should not be done at the expense of the ordinary locals who also want their daily lives to be less disrupted as possible.
The city government and stakeholders in the tourism and hospitality industry should also understand that a lot of Baguio residents are ordinary workers who need to be in their workplaces on time and the least they want is to get stuck in traffic for hours.
We can only sympathize with the exhausted workers who are left with no choice but to take their well-deserved rest inside the public transport vehicles trapped in a traffic jam instead of resting at home.
While the exodus of people to the city may be considered good for those in the public transport sector, this is not the case, especially when drivers fail to fetch and deliver passengers at the normal rate they used to because of traffic gridlock.
The awful experience we had during the holidays is already unbearable and it only shows the city is not prepared to receive the volume of tourists it has been receiving pre-pandemic.
We hope that when Baguio opens its doors again next month with the full blast celebration of the Flower Festival and in the summer months, we will no longer have to endure these terrible experiences.
Residents of Baguio also deserve convenience, much as we try to offer the best we could to our visitors. After all, it is the residents that always have to suffer from the adverse impacts of poorly managed tourism sector.