"I will reiterate there is no such declaration nor order coming from the officials [of any national government agency]," Domogan said on Tuesday, assuring such speculation will not in any way affect the city's preparations for Panagbenga 2019, the summer capital's yearly event also known as the Baguio Flower Festival.
The next flower festival will open on Feb. 1, 2019.
The mayor said the city has lots of problems but that does not mean the city will be closed like what was done to Boracay to give way to its rehabilitation.
For one, Domogan said, the hotel accommodations in this mountain resort city are unlike the ones in Boracay, where the sewage treatment plants drain directly to the sea.
Also, he added, Baguio is an education hub, hosting most of the Cordillera's universities.
The Hotel and Restaurant Association of Baguio (HRAB) shares Domogan's opinion, adding establishments that do not comply with environmental laws must be the first to be called out.
“Their attention should be called and there should be rectification and compliance that should be done by the establishments. The rehab should start from there,” HRAB spokesperson Andrew Pinero told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) in a separate interview.
Pinero said closing Baguio ala Boracay is unlikely to happen.
“That is quite impossible to do, with Baguio City being the gateway to tourist destinations to the Cordillera. There is going to be an effect in terms of tourist arrivals not only in Baguio but its nearby provinces,” he said.
He also agreed with Domogan saying Baguio is not just a tourism hub, but an educational center as well.
“Where are we going to bring the students who are enrolled here and how will the universities and the teachers cope with this? Unemployment is going to be an issue here,” the hospitality executive added.
Pinero said the tourism sector employs over 40 percent of Baguio City's workforce.
He said pushing the establishments to comply with environmental laws is the way to go.
He said the HRAB is happy that state agency Environmental Management Bureau has been so far strict on its regulations.
He cited that EMB-Cordillera chief Reynaldo Digamo had been meeting with establishment owners, particularly members of the HRAB, informing them on new issuances and asking for their cooperation by complying with the law.
Meanwhile, Domogan said the city government of Baguio has approved a study to assess the carrying capacity of the city.
"Tourists are (of course) welcome, but we have to work together in maintaining peace and order and provide 100-percent satisfaction to our constituents and visitors," he said. (PNA) By Pamela Mariz Geminiano