One step backward for local tourism

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    The tragic death of six persons at the area of Mt. Pinatubo in Capas, Tarlac recently is one big blow on our local tourism.  Two French nationals and a Belgian while three locals died at the O’Donnel River after ravaging waters swept them off.

    The unknowing tourists registered with the Pinatubo Development Corp. (PDC) in Barangay Sta. Juliana, Capas. They were not advised that there was a typhoon coming so they pushed through with the trek using a new route promoted by the PDC.

    The PDC is a company financed by Koreans that has forged partnership with the capas municipal government on the promotions of the Pinatubo crater. They, however, monopolized everything including bookings for tours, rents on facilities and vehicles and even fees for the tour guides.

    So what happened last week is totally blamed on to them and Capas Mayor Reynaldo Catacutan. According to DOT Region 3 Dir. Ronnie Tiotuico  the new route named as “Skyway” allows trekkers to an hour drive only and 30 minutes walk.

    But the Skyway was apparently built “without the necessary clearances from government agencies concerned such as the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs), the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) or the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).”

    So the new route’s safety is not guaranteed as it was not approved by Phivolcs. In short, the municipal government has a short foresight on the tourism industry because they failed to ensure safety of all tourists at all times. Some locals said the Korean company is just concerned over their income. Aside from this, it is really disappointing that people attending to tourists coming to this world-renowned destination are not fully equipped and educated because they lack basic knowledge on safety and security.

    Considering that the weather is very important to mountaineers and trekkers, the PDC should be updated on weather forecasts wither through radio, internet, TV, newspapers or their own weather radar. 

    Also, the locals are not well trained to conduct rescue operations in time of emergency so the LGU is reliant to AFP and PNP. Not only that we lack trained manpower, we even have scarce resources and equipment. So precaution is still better that rescue operations.

    And what happened in Tarlac is a lesson to all of us. If we continue using the potentials of tourism industry for the benefit of a few people, then the whole community suffers. We could expect downtrend in the number of tourists coming to Pinatubo given the death toll in the recent accident.

    Of course, other countries to where the victims are nationals will also gauge our capability to handle such situations and likewise, to manage such tourism facilities. Our whole country is being subjected to doubts and criticisms not only Mayor Catacutan and PDC.

    This is indeed a hard lesson learned and a big backlash in our local tourism. We will definitely lose earnings while the locals will lose livelihood.

    And only what? For the greed and selfishness of a few enterprising people. The national government should seriously look into this matter and should pursue investigations on accountability and responsibility of the authorities concerned. If there is a way how involved authorities can be penalized, so be it.

    We have to be firm and consistent in our actions if only to gain credibility and learn from our mistakes. There is no need for kind heart to those who err and those who are selfish. The culprits must be penalized. They should take responsibility on their mistakes. The PDC must be investigated. For all we know, it could even be lacking proper document for tax and other charges. Who knows? The municipal government of Capas should also be investigated by proper authorities if only to help them learn that tourism is a serious business. And the safety and security of the tourists going to our places is one of the most important things that we should take care of.

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