Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, Secretary of the Department of Tourism (DOT), arrived in Baguio City on January 10, 2020 to oversee the progress of the City of Pines’ long-awaited renovation.
The DOT, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) convened an inter-agency taskforce to publicly address the latest developments in Baguio City’s rehabilitation program. The success of the Boracay and Manila Bay rehab programs prompted this inter-agency collaboration.
“Serious concerns have been expressed about the City’s seemingly unending urban development and overtourism, which has resulted in big city problems including traffic, overcrowding, water shortages, and increased pollution,” said Sec. Puyat. However, there is reason to be optimistic. Rehabilitation is achievable when done properly and when everyone is convinced of the benefits of sustainable tourism development, as our previous collective efforts have proved. The Department of Transportation’s current mission is to encourage everyone to #SaveOurSpots, establishing a culture of responsible tourism and improved environmental awareness.”
Determining the City’s carrying capacity is one of the most important topics to handle. This entails determining the optimal number of visitors that can be accommodated without harming or affecting the environment, while also meeting visitor expectations, honoring local needs, and preserving local culture. Baguio City has a population of over 370,000 people, and nearly 800,000 tourists visited the city between January and September of this year.
The DOT, in collaboration with its investment arm, the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA), will begin the reconstruction of Burnham Park with a PHP 480 million budget. The budget for the Burnham Lake will be distributed based on the signed Memorandum of Agreement for landscaping, lighting, and electrical works; hardscape and softscape; building of view deck and boat dock; installation of terrace planters; view deck refurbishment; and plant box enhancement. It will also go toward landscaping, lighting, and electrical improvements, as well as hardscape and softscape, gazebo and restroom building, and playground play equipment installation.
The rehabilitation of the City of Pines will also include the enhancement of premier tourist attractions, the revival and preservation of its ecological health, proper land use and zoning, the construction of a sewerage treatment plant, the enhancement of street lights and pedestrian areas, the construction of efficient road networks, and the modernization of transportation, according to the Tourism Chief. All of these are aimed at showcasing and conserving the Cordilleras’ vibrant culture and distinct creativity.
Sec. Puyat visited Burnham Park, Mines View Park, Wright Park, Baguio City’s sewage treatment plant, and Balili River, the sanitary dump at Irisan, to see firsthand the scope of the city’s reconstruction.
“This is just the start. It is my genuine hope that further sustainable tourist initiatives would be threshed out and executed in the coming months, so that the city of Baguio can reclaim its former grandeur as a shining beacon of sustainable development,” Sec. Puyat added.