December 5, 2022

Tourism in Sagada, Mountain Province remains closed but the municipality is currently working on its health and safety mechanisms prior to reopening its doors to tourists.
Municipal Tourism Officer Maritess Abad said key tourism players will meet with the municipal Inter-Agency Task Force to review the assessment made during the recent tourism reopening dry run in the municipality. 
The dry run was conducted on Aug. 24 to 28 with select individuals from the Department of Tourism, local government units, tour operators and media within the Cordillera as participants.
Abad said included in their testing and evaluation is the town’s online registration system that will limit entry of guests, capability of stakeholders for guest management, and new tour packages to include agri-eco farms. 
If tourism reopens, the municipality has proposed four tour packages for the tourists to choose from.
These are the central Sagada covering Paytokan Trail, Damayan Tribal Arts Center, and Sagada pottery; northern Sagada covering the Bomod-ok Falls, Osenio’s fruit farm, and food products processing center; southern Sagada covering Albert’s Farm, Pongas Falls, and Ubua River; and eastern Sagada covering the Marlboro Hills, blue soil and Bokong Falls.
During the dry run, the participants were divided in the tour packages to limit the number of guests in a certain site. Each tour package had a maximum of five individuals with assigned tour guide and driver. Previously, the ratio of tour guide to guest was one is to 10.
The participants were also instructed to stick with their itineraries and not to mingle with the residents.
The vehicles used were vans mostly with captain seats where a plastic barrier was placed between the driver and the guests.
Guests who are fully vaccinated were required to undergo antigen swab testing while those who did not receive a vaccine are required to present a negative RT-PCR test result prior to entering Sagada.
Around 10 accommodation facilities out of the 172 inns and homestays have completed the requirements from the LGU and the DOT.
“While 10 are fully complied, the others already have permits and are assessed and actually waiting for accreditation from DOT,” Abad said.
Accommodation facility operators were encouraged to comply with the needed health and safety requirements following the dry run.
Abad said 70 percent of Sagada’s population relies on tourism for their source of income that is why the safe reopening of tourism is vital for the economy of the fifth-class municipality. Since last year, the LGU has incurred P200 million loss in projected income due to the closure of tourism.
Mayor James Pooten, Jr. has sought the assistance of Tourism Sec. Bernadette Puyat and Department of Health in speeding up the vaccine rollout for Sagada residents as part of the preparation for resumption of its tourism activities.
Also included in Pooten’s request is the upgrading of the town’s health-care facilities and capacity to address the surge in Covid-19 cases.
Puyat, during her recent visit to Baguio City, said she has already forwarded the town’s request to vaccine czar Sec. Carlito Galvez, Jr. – Ofelia C. Empian