Long weekend 'carmageddon' prompts calls for Sagada tourism regulation

BAGUIO CITY, Philippines – Thanks to the recent long weekend and pleasant weather, Sagada experienced "carmageddon" – an unprecedented monster traffic jam that prompted calls for tourism regulation in the mountain resort town.

The queue to view the Kiltepan sunrise was so long last weekend that by the time the last in the line had her view, it was no longer sunrise. 

Those who could not wait decided to go to Banao near the Sagada-Besao border to watch the “Sagada sunset in Besao.” (READ: Visiting Sagada? 12 things you must remember)

The resulting traffic almost reached the Poblacion, a few kilometers away. Most of the vehicles used were the white UV buses which ferried the tourists from Baguio, Buguias, or the Sagada Poblacion. 

Some residents said that this was unprecedented. The community had a meeting at the town hall to discuss the situation. 

“There was a meeting yesterday at the munisipyo with the MTC (municipal tourism council) plus additional local participants and regional DOT representatives,” said Steven Edward Rogers, a long-time resident married to a Sagada native, in a social media forum. 

“Most of the solutions discussed were ideas that we've heard before, but there may be a greater incentive to implement them now. We'll see how it goes over the Christmas holidays,” Rogers added.

A widely-circulated blog regarding the event called the incident an example of  “hit-and-run tourism.” The blogger called for regulating tourism in the resort town. 

“And most importantly, do not be scared of regulating it. By doing so, your means of livelihood is being safeguarded in a way that it is being made sure that it is sustainable and could thrive generation after generation,” the blog said. 

The blog recommended a moratorium on building accommodations in Sagada and a super-agency to coordinate all tourism activities there. It also said that building parking spaces and widening roads are not the main solutions to the problem. 

“And if this keeps on happening, this unabated tourism, eventually it will lead to Sagada’s demise. And this demise comes in various forms and not just its profitability as a tourist destination. It could be environmental, socio-cultural, etc., the death of the culture of inayan, etc,” it added. 

Department of Tourism-Cordillera will also meet with the Sagada community regarding the situation.

The recent long weekend began on Friday, November 30, a holiday commemorating Bonifacio Day.

The next long weekend will stretch for 4 days – from Saturday, December 22, to Christmas Day on December 25, which falls on a Tuesday. This is because December 24, a Monday, was declared as an additional special non-working holiday. – Rappler.com