May 24, 2024

Baguio City’s continuing problem on bogus accommodation sites and transient scammers, or those who offer lodging in the city online to dupe unsuspecting clients, is hurting the image of the country’s Summer Capital, a major tourist destination of the north.
With the official start of the dry season as declared by Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration, Baguio expects more surge of tourists, as it continues to be the cool vacation haven in this tropical country.
The act of unscrupulous individuals, pretending to be into legitimate accommodation establishments, will pervade all the more if the city and concerned agencies will not act against it.
The Baguio City Police Office, when it traced the online accounts of transient scammers, said these scammers are not from the city but from other regions. One was even traced from another country but pretends to offer lodging from the city.
The modus of these transient scammers is that they would offer an accommodation establishment and they would immediately demand down payment from unsuspecting clients.
Police reports said most of the victims negotiated with persons who use downloaded images and information of legitimate accommodation establishments who pretend to be co-owners or agents of these establishments.After sending the reservation fee or down payment, the scammers block the victims’ social media accounts.
The City Tourism Office said tourists can check legitimate accommodation establishments at the Baguio Visita website.
It’s unfortunate, however, that upon entering the website and clicking on the “accredited establishments”, it does not show the list of establishments. The site does show the details and contacts of some of the legitimate hotels and accommodations in the city as well as the popular tourism destinations in the city.
This calls for the city to further improve and regularly update the Baguio Visita website as a means to help tourists and legitimate lodging establishments, as the city itself claims that tourism is one of the primary sources of revenue for the city and its people.
There are 8,710 rooms available from more than 800 accommodation facilities recorded in Baguio.
But the Department of Tourism-Cordillera reported only 347 out of the 547 accredited accommodation facilities in the Cordillera are found in Baguio.
The CTO reported the various lodging establishments are regularly being encouraged to be accredited by the DOT.
The city government also requested the lodging establishments to have a monthly submission of tourist arrivals as part of the records of the city with a warning those that do not regularly submit tourist arrivals will not be allowed to renew their permits.
We suggest for the city government, in partnership with other lodging establishments, to push for a series of information education campaigns against unregistered or non-accredited lodging sites and to push for the record and inventory of accredited transient or accommodation businesses.
Stakeholders in the tourism industry should work hand-in-hand in going against these fake accommodation scammers online because the bad image presented by these scammers, would definitely hurt Baguio tourism and its overall economy.