Overtourism? Baguio residents raise concerns amid holiday traffic

December 14, 2022 - 7:41 PM
This 2019 photo shows the weekend traffic along central business district in Baguio City (The Philippine STAR/Andy Zapata Jr.)

Baguio City residents aired their frustration as traffic continues to worsen in the country’s Summer Capital due to the influx of tourists. 

The city tourism office earlier reported that around 150,000 people visit the city monthly, similar to the volume of visitors pre-COVID-19 pandemic. 

City tourism officer Alec Mapalo said the number of visitors is expected to increase to 200,000 per month this holiday season.

Baguio residents took to social media to complain about how the traffic is causing inconvenience in their daily lives. 

They also lamented how the local government seemingly prioritizes tourists over residents.  

“‘Di ba dapat mas priority mo ang mga nasasakupan mo kase sa mga turista. Nakaka-stress din kaya sa may mga papasok ng school at office kasi instead of 15 mins to 20 mins biyahe nagiging 45 mins to 1hr dahil sa traffic,” a Facebook user commented. 

“Akala ko nakakainis na yung Manila traffic, mas nakakainis pala yung sa Baguio + taxi puro puno,” a Twitter user said. 

“Baguio people: Close the borders!!! Don’t let those dirty TOURISTS in!!! God forbid we have to WALK,” a social media user said. 

“Mukhang sa kalsada na ko magpapasko,” a Twitter user said.  

On TikTok, a social media user shared how difficult it is to hail a taxi. 

@junlordrinig Kaninang 2pm pa kami nakapila di parin umuusad ang pila sa taxi. Ang hirap umuwi. Nasa may entrance na ng food court ang pila ng taxi. #fy #fyp #baguio ♬ original sound – junlordr on IG

An online user said that the traffic would give a negative effect on the country’s tourism.

“Terrible traffic will only leave a negative impression sa mga tourist, hindi na din namin ma enjoy na mga locals ang holiday season kasi wala nang lumalabas,” a Facebook user wrote. 

Some social media users also said that they cannot enjoy the famous holiday destinations in their own city, citing overtourism.

Responsibletravel.com said “overtourism occurs when there are too many visitors to a particular destination.”

“Sa daming pasyalan here in Baguio especially this holiday season. I am not that excited to explore this stuff,” a social media user said. 

“Sadly, mga Baguio residents hindi ma-enjoy ang Xmas season…Xmas villages, botanical, Xmas events, due to heavy traffic at dami ng tao. Lagi ang residents ang mag-a-adjust pra sa mga tourists. Kung hindi lang dahil sa cold weather, ayaw ko na manirahan dito. Ang mahal pa ng diesel at gasolina,” a social media user said. 

They called on the city government to limit the number of visitors in Baguio.

“Matagal na yang problema dito sa Baguio. Limitahan niyo rin naman kasi yung mga turistang pumapasok dito kasi over populated na nga Baguio eh,” she added. 

Another social media user shared a similar concern saying that the traffic woes have long been a problem. 

“Ilang taon na ‘yang ‘have patience’ na yan baka naman,” a social media user said. 

Baguio government’s response

Amid the concerns about traffic woes and overtourism, the city Mayor Benjamin Magalong asked for the public’s patience. He stressed the important role of tourists in reviving the city’s economy. 

“Admittedly, we need these tourists for our city’s economic growth since the city has suffered shortfalls in its revenue collections in the past years due to the ongoing Coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic,” Magalong said in a statement. 

The Baguio mayor assured the public that the traffic would be lessened in the long run. 

To temporarily ease the traffic, Magalong urged the public to use public transport, bicycle, or walk, if possible. 

In August, a Baguio City councilor pushed for local legislation which seeks to charge tourists who bring their cars into the town.

RELATED: Baguio City council eyes congestion fee for tourists with vehicles