February 29, 2024

The city jumpstarted 2024 with the “Baguio City Tourism Development Planning Congress” on Jan. 12 at the Palace Avenue Hotel.

In attendance were over a hundred representatives of the Baguio community composed of the Office of the Mayor headed by Mayor Benjie Magalong, Vice Mayor Faustino Olowan and his staff, city councilors, non-government organizations, civil society organizations, regional directors of line agencies, the board of the Baguio Tourism Council (BTC) and its sectoral representatives, stakeholders and city department heads and staff.

“We should rethink our priorities. Instead of just preserving, we should make it thrive,” emphasized Dr. Ramon Alampay of the Philippine Asian Institute of Tourism (PAIT).

He discussed about regenerative tourism, sustainability, its applications, nature as a stakeholder, the difference between space and place – with the former space likened to a house or its physical structure, and the latter to a home where people thrive, and respect for the history of the place.

The gathering was to revisit and the review the Baguio Tourism Code and the previously proposed City Tourism Development Plan for the purpose of consolidating recommendations for the revision of the Code and the drafting of the new development plan.

It was spearheaded by the City Tourism Office led by Alec Mapalo, supported by the BTC under chairperson Gladys Vergara, and the city council led by Olowan with Councilors Vladimir Cayabas, Arthur Allad-iw, Mylen Yaranon, Fred Bagbagen, Leandro Yangot, and Lilia Farinas.

Dr.  Monina Buccat also of the PAIT talked about rethinking of future scenarios for Philippine tourism towards resiliency and sustainability in 2040 and beyond, while Department of Tourism Asec. Warner Andrada of the DOT Tourism Development Planning discussed the highlights of the Tourism Development Plan, accomplishments, the decline of tourist arrivals from 2019 to 2021,tourism resurgence or revival starting 2022 to the present.

The scenarios presented was, I believe, the same for all tourism entities during the Covid-19 pandemic and the new normal.

City Planning and Sustainability Officer Ar. Donna Tabangin gave a glimpse of the Baguio’s vision for 2043, which was in tandem with the National Tourism Vision.

There were questions about the inclusion of indigenous peoples in the sustainable tourism plan. International scenarios were given on how New Zealand and Hawaii recognized their IPs in relation to their land; how incentivization (the practice of building incentives into an arrangement or system in order to motivate the actors within it) and certifications to recognize efforts on sustainability and possible scenarios and solutions to motivate people.

City Environment and Parks Management Officer Rhenan Diwas gave a glimpse of the long-term city parks development and rehabilitation. 

Mapalo talked about revisiting the Tourism Code and the 2019 tourism development plan proposed in 2019.

Thereafter, reactions and insights were shared by Dr. Buccat, Dr. Alampay, Asec. Andrada, DOT- CAR Director Jovita Ganongan, Vergara, and Creative City Council Chair Venus Tan.

This is only a teaser of what is yet to come. The synthesis of the whole assembly will be provided by Mapalo. The topics presented for this congress were discussed very well giving us a purview of better things to come. Cheers to 2024! (Photos by  JC Corpuz Buenavista) — Stella Maria L. de Guia