Baguio eyed for rehab

Maria Elena Catajan

ON THE heels of the closure of Boracay, Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo announced over the weekend a need for the Baguio City to undergo rehabilitation.

The Summer Capital records tourist arrivals at 1,521,748 up by 17.52 percent vis-à-vis the 2016 data of 1,294,906 domestic and foreign tourists. This number also surpassed the national projection of the Department of Tourism (DOT) of 1,359,000 or 11.97 percent over the national projection.

Teo, in an interview over national television, confirmed Baguio is being considered for a much needed rehabilitation as one of the top tourism sites in the country.

Councilor Elmer Datuin, who chairs the committee on tourism, welcomed the pronouncements of the tourism chief, saying help from the agency is needed and has been long overdue.

Datuin said years ago, the department has agreed to help in subsidizing upkeep of Burnham Park, but funds have yet to be received by the City.

"We welcome that and any help they can extend for rehabilitation efforts of the city for its destinations," added Datuin.

DOT-Cordillera Director Venus Tan was unavailable to comment on the issue as she is currently in a meeting with Teo.

Recently, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) cited the city as part of the Creative City Network.

Baguio is now among 15 cities in the world recognized in the field of craft and folk arts after its application months ago to the Unesco was backed by the city and Department of Tourism.

Today, the city aims to empower the creative sector to spur economic development with its 56 establishments directly devoted to crafts and folk arts, generating gross receipts of more than 57 million, the inclusion to the Unesco CCN is seen to become a strong economic driver focusing on MSMEs power to harness sustainable and inclusive growth.

In 2013, under former Department of Tourism Regional Director Purificacion Molintas, a presidential task was formed for both for Boracay and Baguio which was tagged as "fragile" by the palace.

During that time, Baguio presented a development plan as well as present efforts of the government to address issues on population growth and tourism.