ATOK, Benguet – The municipal government recently disclosed that the town’s tourism industry is now thriving following the desire of foreign and domestic tourists to visit other pristine tourist spots in the different parts of the country after a two-year lull caused by the implementation of stringent community quarantine restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mayor Franklin Smith claimed that from the previous less than a thousand visitors during weekends, the number significantly increased to approximately 1,500 every weekend following reports on the presence of frost when the temperature dropped to less than 4.5 degrees Celsius over the past several weeks.
On the number of tourist arrivals during weekdays, he stipulated that the tourists visiting in the municipality rose to at least 1,000 visitors from the previous 500 to 800 tourists which is a good sign that the recovery of the local tourism industry is in the right direction.
The municipal chief executive revealed that despite the weather getting warmer over the past several days, it was observed that tourists visiting the municipality are those who already spent a number of days in Baguio City and nearby areas who want to visit other sceneries outside these areas and Atok is strategically located attracting a significant spillover of visitors from other places.
According to him, all the private and public tourist destinations are frequently fully booked with the influx of visitors that is why efforts are being done by the municipal government to compel owners of establishments to sustain the improvements of their facilities, such as toilets, and provide adequate parking spaces for the vehicles for their visitors to prevent inconveniences to other people.
Mayor Smith stipulated that the municipal government and concerned government agencies continue to engage the owners of private tourist spots to ensure their compliance to the existing standards of their facilities so that visitors will be enticed to spread the good news that the municipality is worthy of visiting.
He pointed out that the operation of accredited tourist spots and accommodation establishments will be closely monitored relative to their compliance to tourism standards and that similar future businesses established will have to adhere to the prescribed standards to ensure the quality of their services to the visitors.
Smith admitted that aside from vegetable farming, tourism is one of the major sources of income of the residents that is why efforts are being done to preserve and protect the environment which is the source of the beautiful sceneries that are existing in the locality for them not to be unduly damaged.
Aside from the vegetable gardens that were carved on the mountain slopes, other tourist spots in the municipality include flower gardens, the famous Sakura Park, the second highest highway system in the country, various agri-tourism farms, rice terraces and waterfalls and picnic grounds along several river systems.
Atok is located along the Baguio-Bontoc Road or Halsema highway where tourists could easily travel and go back to their jump off point during the day.