July 19, 2024

An open letter to Atok mayor on suspending tourism activities

I am an overseas Filipino worker and I am with other tourists from Cebu. I am travelling with my family to Atok, Benguet. I have been planning my trip since December as I promised my family to bring them to Baguio and north Luzon as a new year’s gift. We were planning to go to the “Highest Point” and the Northern Blossom.
We were able to book in the accommodation facility in Paoay, at Haight’s Place, for Feb. 8 and 9.
On Feb. 5, we left Batangas on our way to Baguio, when we read on a Facebook post that the mayor of Atok has issued an order temporarily suspending tourism activities in all tourist spots in the municipality.
We felt disappointed and unsure of our next plan since we came all the way from Visayas and other family members came from the U.S. This is the only time that we will spend our time together in a place we haven’t been to. To our dismay, after putting much effort, planning ahead of time and the costs, we had to search for another place that can accommodate us.
We understand the Atok official’s need to do this, as it is for the community’s and everyone’s safety. However, it would be more acceptable if the intention of locking down the municipality was made earlier and with transparency to give guests and tourists enough time to make other plans, especially that this was thought of months ahead.
We hope that next time, the chief executive of this municipality would also fairly consider the other aspects on tourism when making decisions. Having travelled so far, we feel we were discriminated. He could have at least imposed preventive measures such as requiring tourists to wear masks and washing of hands before entering a tourist spot.
Kindly give this tourist’s concern a priority. Your place is beautiful. There is nothing like it as we saw it online. It would be a shame if it is managed like this. — NAME WITHHELD