December 9, 2022

The Municipal Inter-Agency Task Force (MIATF) of Sagada, Mountain Province has decided to further delay allowing tourists as policies are being finalized.

Mayor James Pooten said the MIATF’s decision came as the municipal council communicated that a measure is being finalized which will lay down policies for the safety of residents when tourists start to be allowed to visit.

“The sanggunian will come up with a solution laying down the final guidelines for visitors,” he said.

The MIATF earlier announced the limited entry of tourists starting Sept. 15. The date was moved to the end of October then to the end of November, considering the Covid-19 cases being recorded.

Pooten said participation of the community is a big consideration in the decision of the local officials.

“If it is just me, I would open it because I can see and feel the effect of the pandemic to the economy of our town and the income of the local government, but we also get public opinion and it matters that many are still opposed to the opening of our town to tourists,” he said.

The mayor added Sagada has attained popularity, and opening to tourists means flocking of people there to enjoy its natural attractions.

“We hope we can open soon,” he said.

Pooten earlier said before the pandemic, about 70 percent of Sagada’s central business district were engaged in tourism.

There were about 1,200 to 1,300 serving as tour guides, about 300 inns and restaurants, around a hundred souvenir shops, and the chain is created with the establishments employing locals while souvenir shops source products from local suppliers who also employ workers.

Pooten said the town lost P10 million in 2020 from its share of tourists’ registration fees alone.

The town is also seeing a low or no collection from local taxpayers for 2021. – PNA