December 1, 2023

Mayor Benjamin Magalong has ordered a crackdown on accommodation establishments that continue to violate the city’s laws particularly those that do not have business permits, do not pay their occupancy tax and do not submit tourist arrival data.

Pursuant to the order, three offices – the City Treasury Office, Permits and Licensing Division (PLD) of the City Mayor’s Office and the City Tourism and Special Events Division – jointly launched an operation against erring accommodation establishments in various parts of the city.

PLD Chief Allan Abayao said initial operations conducted last June 7 and 8 yielded 144 recalcit-rant accommodation establishments, mostly condominiums, transient houses and apartments.

All the 144 failed to submit tourist arrival data in violation of Ordinance 120-2017 or the Tourism Statistics Standards of Baguio City.

A total of 111 failed to pay the mandated hotel room occupancy tax and 85 were found to be operating without business permits in violation of Ordinance 2000-01.

The said accommodation establishments were issued notices of violations which require them to rectify their violations within three working days upon receipt of the notice and failure to do so would result in imposition of sanctions as per existing laws.

The mayor’s order stemmed from the report of City Tourism Officer Aloysius Mapalo on the unhampered operation of unpermitted accommodation establishments which he said discourages legitimate ones from renewing their permits.

He also said the majority of the legitimate accommodation establishments failed to fulfill their obligation to submit their tourist arrival data to their office thereby preventing the city from obtaining accurate tourist arrival statistics hampering its data gathering and developmental programs for the sector.

Some accommodation establishments also refused to pay the occupancy tax resulting in loss of revenue for the city.

The tourism office said they have listed more than 1,500 registered accommodation establishments referring to hotels, condotels, serviced residence, resorts, apartelles, motels, pension houses, homestay sites, tourist inns, transient lodging houses, campgrounds, glamping grounds and the like.

The PLD, for its part, said they have issued business permits to 4,577 accommodations including student boarding houses and dormitories.

Prior to the mayor’s order, the PLD had issued notices of violation to 540 accommodations, 347 of which were boarding houses and implemented seven closure orders from January to June 7.  Eight more accommodations are scheduled for closure, five ceased operation while five others have ongoing permit applications. – Aileen P. Refuerzo