By David Leprozo Jr.
BAGUIO CITY – Mayor Benjamin Magalong asked his constituents to be patient with the traffic mess caused by hundreds of thousands of tourists flocking the summer capital of the country.
Motorists were trapped for more than one-and-a-half-hour traffic standstill two weeks ago.
The number of tourist arrivals in the city this year is already reaching pre-pandemic levels with around 150,000 visitors per month since March or an estimated 1.2 million, the city tourism office said. This number is expected to increase further with the re-opening of the Loakan airport next week.
Domestic and foreign tourists alike include Baguio City as one of their favorite destinations. Known for its cooler weather this time of the year that could drop as low as 12 degrees this month, the city is also the bastion of Cordilleran cultural heritage.
Magalong said the city needs to ‘bite the bullet’ for the meantime.
Unbearable traffic mess
He acknowledged he has been getting complaints from Baguio residents that the traffic congestion has become unbearable.
“Admittedly, we need these tourists for our city’s economic growth since the city has suffered shortfalls in its revenue collections in the past years due to the ongoing Coronovarius disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic,” he said.
The Mayor pointed out that revenues generated by the local tourism sector will help bolster the city government’s coffers that would be used to fund social and other services that would benefit the public.
Traffic management ‘innovation’
He said he will coordinate with the traffic management officials to look for innovative ways to manage traffic.
Concrete measures are also in the pipeline for implementation next year to minimize traffic jams especially experienced in major thoroughfares of the city.
Last Monday, the Baguio City Council has approved on first reading a proposed ordinance to increase the fines for roadside parking violations.
All members of the local legislative body authored the proposal to amend Ordinance No. 66, series of 2020.
The amendments also seek to expand the ban on use of roadside parking spaces as staging areas for public utility vehicles, repair bays, car washing, vending, and double parking.
The city has continuously encouraged residents and visitors to use public transport, bicycle or even walk, if possible, to help ease the city’s traffic woes.
PAL flies Cebu to Baguio
More tourists are also expected to come to Baguio with the opening of Loakan airport on December 16.
Flag carrier Philippine Airlines said they will fly four flights per week during the resumption of flights between the City of Pines and the commercial heart of the Visayas region.
File photos courtesy Baguio City Public Information Office