Cordillera festivals to gain from ‘revenge travel’ – DOT
BAGUIO CITY — More Cordillera festivals are returning after three years of pandemic-induced health and mobility restrictions, and the recent drop in inflation may help encourage more travelers to visit the region’s top destinations ahead of the Holy Week break, the Department of Tourism (DOT) said on Wednesday.
Imbayah (“bayah” is rice wine in Ifugao) Festival is again being staged in Ifugao’s Banaue town beginning on April 15 and will precede the return of Gotad ad Ifugao (big gathering in Ifugao) in June.
In Mountain Province, the community is bringing back Lang-ay (fellowship or sharing) Festival in the capital town of Bontoc in the first week of April. Popular destination Sagada town staged its Etag (smoked pork) Festival in January, while the Strawberry Festival in Benguet’s La Trinidad town concluded last week.
Smaller towns have also staged their own festivals, such as this week’s Gagayam Festival in Sabangan, Mountain Province.Since 2022, “revenge travel” has benefited the region, particularly Baguio City, based on the surge of tourists who saved up for trips scheduled at the end of the peak months or during rainy months, said Jovita Ganongan, DOT Cordillera director, at a briefing.
Travel to and from Baguio City, the country’s summer capital, and the rest of the Cordillera continued even in months when inflation spiked, she observed.
Cordillera inflation rose to 7.6 percent in November and again to 7.7 percent in December 2022, which is when the largest number of tourists drive up to the summer capital during the Christmas break.
Inflation increased further to 7.9 percent in January, but it slid down to 7.1 percent the following month, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority at a Wednesday briefing.
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With the ability to save money now that the prices of commodities have eased, “more people, perhaps, can travel now … not just inbound but also outbound,” Ganongan said.
The DOT has promoted domestic tourism as a vehicle for economic recovery in the provinces and has not just focused on luring people to the Cordillera but has also encouraged families in the upland region to visit places outside their communities, she said.
“There are many factors that trigger inflation, but [the downtrend] motivates the travel market,” Ganongan said.
Because of the government-imposed community lockdowns, tourists seek out “immersive” activities or itineraries that allow travelers to experience indigenous practices for themselves, she said.
Most of the Cordillera provinces experienced an inflation downturn in February, except for Mountain Province, which surged from 9.8 percent in January to 10.1 percent last month, and Ifugao, where inflation rose from 5.6 percent in January to 6.4 percent in February.
Ganongan said local inflation could be stabilized if more people traveled and spent at their destinations to help the host communities.
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