ATOK, Benguet – The municipal government is gearing up for the revitalization of the town’s tourism industry as one of the major economic drivers in the municipality while sustaining efforts to preserve and protect the environment that is the source of the unique sceneries being frequented by visitors.
Mayor Franklin Smith said there is still a long way to go in the development of the town’s tourism industry but the local government, in partnership with concerned government agencies and tourism industry stakeholders, are taking the necessary steps one at a time so as not to burden the involved parties.
He pointed out that one of the major thrusts of the present administration is to require the regulation and accreditation of new tourist destinations to ensure their compliance to the minimum requirements on the operation of tourist spots.
At present, the town’s chief executive disclosed that only four of the town’s tourist destinations have been accredited and these destinations have been allowed to operate under the prevailing community restrictions as Benguet still remains under Alert Level 2.
Mayor Smith admitted the need also to facilitate the accreditation of tour guides for them to have a sustainable source of livelihood and ensure they pass the stringent standards of tour guiding to help in promoting the various tourist destinations in the different parts of the municipality.
According to him, tourism is becoming a stiff competition among local governments that is why it is important for local tourism industry stakeholders to embrace the innovations required to meet the standards of the market for the town’s tourism industry not to be left behind in these fast changing times.
He revealed there are numerous emerging tourist destinations in the different parts of the municipality thus the local government is pushing for the implementation of the needed regulation and accreditation of these to ensure their compliance to the prevailing standards of the tourism industry, like the provision of sufficient parking spaces, the presence of trained tour guides, the compliance of the facilities to prescribed standards, provision of health and sanitation facilities compliant with tourism standards and the guaranteed protection of the environment through institutionalized programs and projects.
Smith emphasized that Atok is the gateway to the different scenic tourist destinations in Benguet and central Cordillera that is why the tourist destinations must be convincing to entice visitors to continue travelling to the different parts of the region.
Aside from its scenic flower and vegetable gardens, the municipality also boasts of its very cool weather that is a natural pill for visitors to enjoy the chilly mornings and witness the presence of frost when the temperature drops during the months of November to March.