Majority of the 13 towns of Benguet are preparing for their inclusion in the tourism circuit of Baguio, which gradually opened its borders to tourists from Region 1 on Oct. 1.
League of Municipalities Benguet chapter president and Itogon Mayor Victorio Palangdan clarified it would still depend on each municipality when to open their tourism sites to visitors.
“The mayors are willing to open their tourism sites but they still need to prepare,” Palangdan said.
He said the mayors have discussed the crafting of guidelines and protocols including capacity of their respective tourism sites prior to being included in the Ridge to Reef Tourism Corridor program between Baguio and Region 1 under the watch of the Department of Tourism.
On Thursday, Baguio Mayor Benjamin Magalong has announced that some tourism sites in nearby Benguet towns are open for BLISTT residents such as the BenCab Museum in Asin, Tuba.
Speaking for his municipality, Palangdan said they will open some trekking sites including Mt. Ulap, Mt. Bidawan, Mt. Pigingan, and Mt. Ugo.
The Itogon government is currently coordinating with the concerned barangays for the inclusion of the trekking sites as part of the tourism circuit of Baguio City.
Tublay Mayor Armando Lauro said they are currently validating their various tourism sites.
Improvement on the handrails going to Paterno and Bengaongao Caves in Barangay Ambongdolan and the rehabilitation of Bayokbok Falls and the Asin hot spring, both in Tuel, are also ongoing.
Tublay is also looking at allowing the opening of the privately-owned eco-tourism sites such as the lemon-picking farm at Km. 21, Ambassador and the Winaca Eco-Cultural Village in Caponga.
Lauro said the initial plan is to launch the tourism sites during Benguet’s foundation day on Nov. 22.
La Trinidad Mayor Romeo Salda said they have yet to discuss the opening of their tourism sites with the municipal Inter-agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious diseases
The local government previously opened to residents Mt. Kalugong in Barangay Cruz, Mt. Costa in Puguis and Avong nen Romy in Wangal.
He said the three eco-tourism sites shall only open on weekends with 50 percent maximum operational capacity.
The Mt. Pulag National Park remains closed.
Earlier, Benguet Gov. Melchor Diclas said they are in the process of crafting the guidelines for tourism-related activities in the province. – Ofelia C. Empian