November 26, 2022

ATOK, Benguet – Department of Tourism Sec. Bernadette Romulo-Puyat assured residents there are policies in the tourism sector that are in place to assure safety of the communities where tourist attractions are located.

Puyat said unlike in other industries, the tourism sector has crafted policies that protect the host community, personnel in places of accommodation, as well as the tourist.

These policies include mandatory “test before travel,” pre-registration at the point of destination through online applications, apart from the continuous reminder to follow minimum health standards.

With these requirements in place, Puyat said so far, no infection has been reported due to tourism.

Puyat added while the DOT encourages local government units to consider opening to tourism, it is still up to the LGUs to decide.

“It is the decision of the mayor and the governor but we are asking for tourism reopening in consideration of the many people who have lost their jobs,” Puyat said.

Puyat assured the DOT is willing to provide technical assistance and support to LGUs that intend to reopen their areas for tourism.

Atok Mayor Raymundo Sarac and Benguet Governor Melchor Diclas recently joined Puyat in inspecting the famous agri-tourism sites sakura farm at the Haight’s Place in Barangay Paoay and the Northern Blossoms.

Sarac and Diclas assured they will consult the residents first before deciding to reopen to tourists.

At present, Sarac and Diclas said they are preparing their tourism sites if they open under the new normal.

Sarac said they are in the process of approving a tourism plan and tourism ordinance.

He said he has village officials that have tourist attractions to clean up and assure that they have amenities including comfort rooms that tourists can use.

Puyat, who went to Atok for the first time, said many people go abroad to see beautiful flowers not knowing that there are destinations in the country which offer the same satisfaction.

“Many tourists are looking for something new to visit which are Instagrammable. Maganda dito, makikita mo naman puro flowers,” she said.

Atok, which has a temperature not higher than 20 degrees Celsius for the whole year, produces a variety of flowers. Among them are chrysanthemums, Malaysian mums, and statis, among others. Carnation, sakura and even tulips grow here due to the constant low temperature in the whole municipality.

The rose cabbage which has become popular as accent flowers in special events is also propagated here.

The Puyat farms, owned by the secretary’s family, produce quality flowers, and also maintain several greenhouses in this town where they produce several imported flower varieties.

Atok also has a sunrise view of Mount Pulag, the country’s second-highest peak. – PNA