ATOK is taking steps to ready its agri-tourism sites to outside visitors even as the pandemic continues, government officials revealed on Tuesday.
During an inspection of the Sakura farm at the Haight’s Place in Barangay Paoay and fellow agri-tourism site Northern Blossoms conducted with Benguet Governor Melchor Diclas and Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, Atok Mayor Raymundo Sarac said that the local government is readying for the reopening of tourism.
However, the preparations are being made even if reopening to tourism remains unconfirmed.
Sarac said they are working on a tourism plan and tourism ordinance to regulate tourism once it reopens.
At the same time, Sarac said the different villages which have tourist attractions have been asked to prepare to receive tourists by cleaning up, fixing up, and ensuring that they have amenities including comfort rooms that the tourists can use.
Meanwhile, Puyat is encouraging local government units to reopen tourism, touting that “so far, there is no outbreak because of tourism.”
“Tourists undergo swab tests before traveling compared to others where testing is not done, tourists always have their test before they travel,” Puyat added.
She also said that the DOT will offer its full support to local government units eyeing reopening to tourism, but the final choice of reopening will be left to the governments themselves.
“It is the decision of the mayor and the governor but we are asking for tourism to reopen in consideration of the many people who have lost their jobs,” Puyat said.
The secretary also touted Atok as an alternative tourist attraction for people who go abroad in search of scenic views and flowers.
Atok, which boasts a temperature no higher than 20 degrees Celsius throughout the entire year, produces a variety of flowers such as chrysanthemums, Malaysian mums, and statis, among others. Carnations, cherry blossoms, and even tulips grow in Atok due to the consistently low temperature throughout the municipality.