The City Council, during last Monday’s regular session, approved on first reading a proposed ordinance converting the Tourism and Special Events division of the City Administrator’s Office into a regular department to be called the City Tourism, Culture and Arts Office.
Under the proposed ordinance, the City Tourism, Culture and Arts office shall be composed of a department head, an assistant department head, and 4 division heads with assigned personnel staff.
The department’s key functions and core mandates include ensuring the implementation of the set policies, plans, programs, projects and activities as indicated in the core mandates of each division, constantly supervising and monitoring for quality and standards of work and output; advise the local chief executive and members of the local legislative body on the promulgation of administrative issuances and measures relative to the policies, plans, programs and projects; represent the local government in all conferences, meetings, forums and other gatherings concerning or in relation to tourism and cultural affairs; coordinate and maintain good working relations with other city departments and offices to guarantee seamless delivery of public service and fulfillment of citywide objectives; engage the cooperation, assistance, and support of other government agencies in the implementation of the department’s initiatives and projects for their enhancement and of tourism; ensure, through open communication, a cordial and professional public relations relative to the functions and programs of the department; serve as permanent board to the Baguio Tourism Council and exercise such powers and functions as may be delegated by the local chief executive and the city council from time to time, through appropriate issuances, with the end of furthering the mandates of the department.
The ordinance stipulated that the budgetary requirements for the said purpose shall be appropriated from the annual budget of the calendar year 2024 and succeeding years implementing only what can be appropriated as part of the 3-year gradual staffing and retooling for the new department.
The council claimed that given the influx of domestic and foreign tourists, as well as key visitors, the number of tourism, civic and special events being implemented throughout the number of tourism-oriented or related establishments and services being monitored and trained, and the amount of work involved in running and administering the Baguio Convention Center; and the many other activities and functions delegated to the division officer; the current composition and set up of the Tourism and Special Events division is inadequate in terms of mandate, organizational structure and human resources.
Republic Act (RA) 9593 otherwise known as the Tourism Act of 2009 mandates local government units, in consultation with stakeholders, to utilize their powers under the pertinent provisions of the Local Government Code of 1991 to ensure the preparation and implementation of a tourism development plan, the enforcement of standards and the collection of statistical data for tourism purposes; and shall insofar as practicable, prepare local tourism development plans that integrated zoning, land use, infrastructure development, the national system of standards for tourism enterprises, heritage and environmental protection imperatives in a manner that encourages sustainable tourism development, also as prescribed, devolved tourism functions from national agencies by the Mandanas-Garcia ruling.