Co-operatives and Tourism

Would it be a great idea if our co-ops do tourism related services? Would it also be a great idea if our transport co-ops provide for the transportation needs of tourists? And would it even be a greater idea if our co-ops can show other Cordillera landscapes to tourists? Why not? Baguio and the entire Cordillera Region is a favorite tourist destination.

Last Wednesday, I was invited to give a short inspirational message to some Quezon City Cooperatives who are having a seminar here in Baguio. The attendance was around 400 – 500 delegates as per my estimate. They could be more. While waiting for my turn to speak, I spend time conversing with some people I was introduced to. I was suggesting to them to visit some places here in Baguio in their free time. That was his cue to ask me if there are co-ops that are catering to tourists arriving in the city. My response was, there was none.

That inquiry rekindled what I have been proposing to co-ops not only here in Baguio but also in Benguet in almost all my speaking engagements. I told him I broached that idea more than once but I guess I did not have that convincing power or it could be that nobody believed in what I was saying about co-ops going into the tourism industry.

Now that you have brought this up, I continued, I will definitely make an extra effort to be more effective in trying to convince our co-ops regarding their opportunities in tourism. He even observed that there was no one promoting our tourism destinations inside the bus terminals. There should be a booth or just a table somewhere where tourists can make inquiry especially visitors coming for the first time, he added.

This could be another golden opportunity just waiting to be grabbed. I believe this is worth considering. While I’m at it, this is again another call for transport co-ops, especially the tourist vans, to have a second look at this proposal. In fact, I told a group of taxi and van operators and drivers one time during a meeting, for them to make arrangements with hotels for the transportation needs of their guests. They should make ways to get contacts of tourists even before coming up to Baguio.

For tourists who do not just want to have a good time in Baguio but intend to visit some interesting places inside and outside the city, co-ops can offer a package depending on their budget with tour guides telling some exciting facts about the places they pass through. We should have a group of tourism advocates, especially co-ops, that will encourage tourists to explore other alternative destinations here in the Cordilleras. This option might even ease the traffic congestion of the city especially during peak seasons.

In fact, the Halsema Highway or other road arteries in the Cordillera are tourist destinations in themselves. Cruising or traversing those mountain roads are quite an experience. And to add flavor to the journey, there should be coffee shops in strategic locations along the highway that caters to tourists as suggested by my alternate writer in this column since 5 years ago. We have the best tasting Arabica Coffee in town. So this could be an advantage.

I am not saying that all of these are surefire formulas from a business perspective but it’s worth a try. Baguio City is a tourist magnet come to think of it. Too bad, my thought was running slow during my conversation with that man from Quezon City. I should have arranged for them with a transport co-op to bring them to places after their seminar.

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