Hearing on raising Botanical Garden entrance fees, held
The city government thru the City Environment and Parks Management Office (CEPMO) conducted a public hearing, May 25, at the Baguio Convention Center on the proposed increase of entrance fees at the Baguio Botanical Garden currently pegged at P10 for adults and P5 for children-based on the Baguio Environmental Code of 2016 (Ordinance No. 18-2016).
The proposed new environmental and entrance fee is P50 for guests and tourists; P30 for Baguio residents above 12 years old who shall present to the treasury collector his/her government-issued ID bearing the residence address; and P10 for Baguio residents below 12 years old as environmental fee.
A 20 percent discount shall be given to senior citizens and students but they must present the appropriate identification card.
To encourage ‘forest breathing’, the Botanical Garden will be free for Baguio residents at 6 am to 8am, Mondays to Fridays, but they are required to secure a Wellness Pass at the CEPMO while group activities like Zumba and Taebo including playing loud music will not be allowed inside the park.
CEPMO head Atty. Rhenan Diwas said that after the Park’s reopening on March 7, this year, after its rehabilitation, the influx of visitors to the area has greatly increased thus bolstering the need of raising entrance fees for operational and maintenance costs and to hire more personnel and security staff to improve the park’s operation efficiency and safety.
Other reasons are to fund future developments consistent with the Botanical Garden Master Development Plan; and establishment of additional community parks in other areas of the city.
A cost comparison of the entrance fees charged by other tourist destinations in the city like the Igorot Stone Kingdom and Tree Top Adventure was also presented where those currently being charged by the Botanical Garden are very much lower.
Also in the consultation were city treasurer Alex Cabarrubias and city tourism officer Aloysius Mapalo who both agreed on the need for the increase in the Botanical Gardens entrance fees while offering some suggestions.
A representative of the Baguio Botanical Garden concessionaires agreed with the entrance fees increase as he shared feedback from visitors who said that the Park is more beautiful today than in the past and are hoping that this would be maintained.
He suggested that more parking areas for visitors should be considered and that there be one flow of entry and exit of people in the Park. He also warned against the commercialization of the Park as far as business establishments are concerned.
A member of the BLISTT tour guides association expressed their appreciation for the Park’s rehabilitation and suggested that accredited tour guides be allowed free entrance to the area as long as they show their accreditation IDs.
She said that tour guides enhance the experience of visitors to a place by not only showing the best spots to take photos but also impart knowledge and educate them on its history.
Those who watched the proceedings via facebook livestream also shared their comments with some insisting that entrance should be free for all since it is a ‘public park’; some saying that the proposed increase is too much; others suggesting that only tourists be charged entrance fees and not Baguio residents; some agreeing with the increase; and many more.
Diwas assured that all the suggestions and comments during the Executive-led public hearing will be considered for incorporation into the proposal before being presented to the City Council for its action.“This hearing will ensure that what is contained in the proposal is not only coming from us (government) but from the people,” he stressed. – Gaby B. Keith