July 22, 2024

The guidelines issued by the Department of Tourism-Cordillera for the public to be responsible travelers is a timely reminder as tourist destinations are experiencing an influx of people who do not only want to explore the region’s natural landscapes, but also to participate in scheduled events in the localities.
Since the Holy Week observance, tourists started flocking Baguio City and other equally famous destinations in the Cordillera.
To guide travelers, the DOT-Cordillera issued an advisory that emphasized the need for tourists to be responsible by respecting the culture in the areas they are visiting and to support the local economy by patronizing the products and services offered by the locals.
Tourists are likewise reminded that the region has a lot more places and experiences to offer, aside from the already established sites and activities they have been enjoying in their go-to destinations.
We share the call of the DOT for tourists to also explore the lesser known but equaly stunning places in the Cordillera, but at the same time, we ask that travellers also research about the culture of the place they are visiting. Doing so will help them understand the people’s behavior better and in turn make them share the values the locals, especially on how they want visitors to behave in their community.
We recognize that despite the fact that several areas in the region have become tourists’ havens, a lot still needs to be done when it comes to making them understand the diverse cultural practices and the sensibilities of the locals. This lack of awareness of a community’s culture sometimes leads to unpleasant encounters between visitors and residents.
To cite an example, it is unfortunate that despite education and the accessibility of online materials about the Cordillera and its inhabitants, there are still instances when tourists end up asking where they can find the Igorots, oblivious of the fact that they are talking to one.
The Cordillerans still find the tourists’ lack of knowledge about the region’s peoples appalling due to our typically reserved attitude. As any smart traveller would do, a brief research on a locality’s culture will help tourists avoid awkward or unpleasant experience.
At the same time, we call on Cordillerans to also be responsible and respectful hosts by helping educate the tourists instead of humiliating them or engaging in unscrupulous activities that taint the reputable character of the Igorots.
Instead of humiliating or being hostile to tourists, it is our obligation to enlighten them on the region’s peoples, cultural practices, and values and belief systems. Keeping an open mind on the fact that not all people are knowledgeable about the Cordilleran culture will help us tolerate innocent questions even if they seem rude.
As we continue to promote the region’s tourism potentials, let us also become responsible hosts and ensure that visitors are secured while they are in our communities and that they are not taken advantage of.
As hosts, let us not be involved in unfair practices and help report acts that are damaging to the visitors. Of late, complaints about fake bookings have been reported, not only in Baguio, but also in other tourist areas like Sagada, Mountain Province. Although most of those committing these fraudulent activities are not from the region, it is our obligation to help spread awareness and guide tourists on how to avoid being victimized by scams.
Responsible and friendly hosting also means not taking advantage of tourists by overpricing goods and services. As we call for tourists to be responsible when they are in our communities, let us also protect them from unfair practices. After all, providing tourists with a pleasant experience means not taking advantage of their innocence.