Sagada sets ‘no tour guide, no trekking’ law

>> Sunday, July 16, 2017

By Dionisio Dennis Jr.

SAGADA, Mountain Province – Tourists can no longer roam scenic sites here or any part of the town without a tour guide. 
Mayor James Pooten said the municipal government is strictly implementing “no tour guide, no trekking” policy to accidents and avoid tourists from becoming lost like what happened recently to a Korean national who went missing for two weeks in remote Barlig town and stayed alive by eating peanuts and money. 
Kyusung Choi went missing for a week after losing his way in the forested mountain of Barangay Latang.  
Pooten said Choi refused the assistance of a tour guide when he went on a trekking adventure from Barlig to the heritage site in Battad in Banaue, Ifugao.
Pooten said all tourists visiting Sagada for adventure in underground caves, falls and other nature sites are required to register at the municipal tourism office.
There, they will write their personal information for proper identification and record purposes and for easier and faster response in case of emergencies.
 “Aside from paying a minimal environmental fee of P35 per head at the municipal tourism office, tourists are briefed and guided to their destinations.
“From the tourism office, they are not allowed to go to any of the tourism destinations until they are accompanied by trained medical staff and tour guides,” Pooten said.
He said they have no previous case of missing tourist but several accidents involving visitors have been recorded. “With our trained tour guides and medical staff or rescuers, the visitor who encountered accident was immediately rescued or treated,” the mayor said.
Located 150 km and five to six hours drive from Baguio City, Sagada is among the top favorite destinations in the Philippines of both local and foreign tourists.
Sumaguing Cave is one of the most visited sites in Sagada.
It is three kilometers away from the Poblacion and located in Barangay Balugan.
“We will continue to be strict with our policy implementation to prevent any untoward incidents involving our visiting tourists,” Pooten said, noting the incident in Barlig involving the Korean could have been prevented.

The mayor said he was happy that Choi was found alive by search and rescue operatives of the province. -- PNA


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