The Ilocos Norte provincial board has recommended the posting of information boards on tourist destination sites to put tourists on notice of regulatory laws adopted in their areas.
The board’s committee on tourism will also review the imposition of tourism fees adopted by the upland tourist town of Adams that led to a brewing conflict between an adventure group and town officials.
Aside from Adams, Pagudpud officials are likewise collecting tourism fees from tourists before they could frolic on the town’s popular white beaches.
Provincial board member Michael Keon, the board’s tourism committee chair, stepped into the brewing disagreement by calling a public hearing between the members of Pinakbet adventure group and Adams town officials on September 6.
Keon said the committee had taken down notes on the proceedings and will adopt other measures to improve or correct some provisions about the town’s tourism fee.
“This hearing is not meant to finger point people who are at fault. We want to resolve this issue on a friendly atmosphere and not to fan the flames further,” Keon said.
The disagreement stemmed from a tourist fee of P20 that Adams officials passed in March to be charged against every person visiting any tourism area in that town.
Known as the “green fee,” the collection is meant to improve tourism facilities in Adams, renowned for its white-water Bulu River for kayaking and rolling terrain for trekking and biking.
The 21-member Pinakbet group who went to Adams in early July for a biking tour were said to have refused paying the green fee claiming it to be baseless and illegal.
Adams Mayor Wilma Dupagen-Daquioag wrote Ilocos Norte Governor Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. after the incident calling for an appropriate action for the group’s alleged “disrespect to (their) local laws.”
“It is inappropriate and unprofessional for a group claiming to promote eco-tourism to discredit our programs (on tourism promotion), Daquioag said in her letter.
Ramon Formantes, Pinakbet member, said the group withheld their payments because it was not made clear what the fee was meant for and whether an ordinance had been approved authorizing the collection.
“We did not totally intend to ignore the fee imposed. We just wanted to be clarified whether or not it was authorized. We even left P500 as token to our guide (an Adams resident),” he said.
But what appeared to have enraged Adams officials were the remarks that the Pinakbet members wrote on the town’s logbook of visitors stating among other things the words, “Adams Family, Adams Apple and Adam Son.”
“We demand public apology from those who playfully filled up our logbook,” Daquioag said.
The group publicly apologized during the committee hearing, saying the remarks on the logbook were not laced with malice but were borne out of spontaneous jubilation upon reaching Adams after a long bike drive.
“We were euphoric upon reaching Adams after biking for long hours. Some of our members were probably carried by their emotions and wrote down on the logbook things that were associated with the town’s name without the intent to malign the place,” Formantes added.
Cristina Arzadon, PIA-Ilocos news
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