By Hanah Tabios
The local government of Sagada in Mountain Province has partially lifted its suspension order on its eco-tourism activities in relation to the 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
In the latest advisory released by Municipal Mayor James Pooten Jr., tourists may again enjoy tourism activities in the town, except for spelunking (caving) and sunrise viewing activities.
The move came following the health, tourism, and interior department’s clarification that the conduct of public gatherings is still safe, provided that all precautionary measures are all in place.
Sagada is one of the country’s popular travel destinations, and boasts of well-preserved indigenous culture through its centuries-old hanging coffins, unusual limestone formations, “Blue Soil Hills,” among others.
Spelunking and sunrise viewing, which are still covered by the ban, are two of the major eco-tourism draws in the town.
To note, Sagada has over 60 caves, with Sumaguing Cave deemed as the biggest “chamber of underworlds”.
Under Executive Order (EO) No. 10 signed by Pooten, all tours will strictly start at 7 a.m.,stressing that there would be no sunrise viewing at any viewpoints, including the famed Ampanga Heights.
“This is to discourage crowd gathering activities during the early hours when the temperature is very cold. However, visitors can still trek to Marlboro Hills and other sites at or after 7a.m.,” it said.
Visitors are also required to undergo health assessment as advised by the health department upon arrival in Sagada.
“Assessment will be done when registering at the Tourist Information Center, when checking in at accommodations and before tours start. Assessment before the tour will be done by the respective tour guide,” it added.
Experts earlier said that the virus propagate in cold areas, hence, such activities are still prohibited until further notice.