As holiday trash accumulates, Baguio eyes charging tourists environmental fee

Michelle Soriano, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 22 2020 07:58 PM

The environmental fee, still being proposed, will help Baguio’s cleanup program, the city vice mayor said. Michelle Soriano, ABS-CBN News

BAGUIO—After the recent arrival of holidaymakers led to this city generating heaps of trash, local officials are pressing for a solution — charge tourists an environmental fee worth P75.

“With due respect to our tourists, they come and go, so it is but normal that we should contribute also to the development of tourism in our city so they should pay environmental fees,” said Baguio vice-mayor Faustino Olowan.

The ordinance, introduced by councilors Maria Mylen Victoria Yaranon and Joel Alangsab, passed first reading on Monday.

Particulars of the ordinance are still up for deliberation.

“Pwedeng i-charge na lang sa hotel (They can charge it to the hotel) where they are staying. If they realize that Baguio is really bent on making sure that our environment is clean and we really are taking care of it, they will see where their money went,” Yaranon said.

Besides residents, outsiders below 7 years old are exempt from paying the fee. Discounts will also apply to senior citizens and persons with disabilities.

Urdaneta City native Maricar Angeles, who frequents Burnham Park, approved of the measure.

“Kung maliit lang naman na halaga, OK lang naman kasi napakaganda naman po ng Baguio,” Angeles said.

(If it's only a small fee, it's okay since Baguio is beautiful.)

Edwin Novelas, however, said he fears that the fee will slash part of tourists’ budget intended for services, such as bike rentals, a source of income for him.

“ ’Yung mga talagang walang pera na dadayo dito, siyempre iisipin nila, ‘Hindi na tayo pupunta, magbabayad ka pa.’ Paano ’yung talagang mahirap, ’yung talagang mamamasyal lang?” Novelas said.

(The fee could discourage visitors who have a tight budget from coming over. What about the poor, for instance?)

Legislative committees are due to discuss the proposed ordinance..