SAGADA RULES. Tourists pose on stalagmite rock formation inside the Sumaguing cave, one of the famous natural attractions of Sagada in Mountain Province. (File photo by Redjie Melvic Cawis/ PIA-CAR)
BAGUIO CITY--The municipality of Sagada is urging tourists who will visit the place to follow parking and environmental protection rules and respect its culture and people for them to enjoy the beauty of this nature-endowed town.
"We have been strictly implementing the rules and regulations since last year and we expect tourists to follow them especially with the festivals all lined up in the region,” Mayor James Pooten told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) in a phone interview on Thursday.
Tourists going to different parts of the Cordillera do a side-trip to Sagada, especially with the Baguio Flower Festival, Strawberry festival, and various town celebrations coming one after the other.
Pooten said the local government, together with the Sagada Tourism Council, has laid down the rules to prevent the place from becoming a garbage dump.
The mayor said the carrying capacity is also being implemented in some tourist destinations in the town.
Among them is Marlboro country, where one could get a great view of the sunrise, by limiting the number of visitors.
"Those who do not have a reservation will be accommodated the next day," Pooten said.
All visitors are required to register at the tourism office where they pay certain fees like the environmental fee, guide fee, among others.
"Travel agencies, groups, and individuals must register for the tours at the Tourist Information Office (TIO),” Pooten said.
He reminded the tourists to bring their official receipt with them which will serve as their entrance pass to the tourism sites.
On transport and traffic, Pooten said the Echo Valley and Sumaguing Cave, as well as the Lumiang Cave, are near and only require short walks.
Vehicles should be left at the designated parking area but if they want to ride, there is local transport shuttle that can ferry them to the sites, Pooten said,
He said all tourist vehicles, whether private or government-owned, are required to park their vehicles during their stay in Sagada at their hotel parking or in pay parking areas.
"Fetching of tourist is only allowed from Sumaging cave back to the town center. There will be no designated parking space near the cave," he said.
He added that the drop-off point of guests coming from Bomod-ok and Marlboro hills will only be at Makamkamlis area.
Aside from the Echo Valley tours and Sumaguing Caves, Bomod-ok, Marlboro, Balangagan, Pong-as can be visited using a local shuttle, Pooten said.
"Only local transport shall be allowed to ferry tourists to identified sites. Registered municipal tourist shuttle will have one general line up stationed at the Tourist Information Center," he said, noting that this would assure that all tourists are accounted for and are safely back at their lodgings at night.
"This is also our way of monitoring the safety of the tourist while they enjoy Sagada," Pooten added.
He said only the LGU and Department of Tourism (DOT) accredited inns, hotels or home stays under the Sagada Inns and Hotels Association (SIHA) will be allowed to operate as accommodations.
These establishments must follow the standard pricing, he added.
“To owners of inns, home stays, please follow the standard prices for accommodation,” Pooten said.
Regarding waste management, Pooten said tourists are encouraged to bring their own refillable water tumblers and discouraged from using plastic bottles.
“Please respect the culture. Keep a distance from rituals or any sacred sites. Do not touch or disturb coffins or burial sites. Do not attempt to join or film any ritual without direct permission from the presiding elders," he said.
"Do not disturb mass in the church or shoot videos/photos in or around the church during mass, " Pooten said, citing the post in the town's social media account. (PNA)