SURIGAO CITY – Complaints that operators of public transport and other services are charging unjust rates local and foreign tourists visiting Siargao and Bucas Grande Islands in Surigao del Norte, have prompted the provincial government to come up with fixed rates for these services.
The Provincial Development Tourism Council and the Provincial Tourism Office are leading the efforts to eradicate the decade-long problem of rip-off victimizing tourists especially foreigners who travel to the picturesque islands of the province.
Supervising Tourism Operations Officer Ivonnie B. Dumadag of the Provincial Tourism Office said the province is serious in providing solutions to the problem.
“Through the Provincial Development Tourism Council and Provincial Tourism Office, we will come up with standardized rates which will be put in designated places mostly in entry points,” Dumadag said.
She added standard rates would also apply to other services for tourists.
The tourism office received reports that at Sohoton Cove and caves in Bucas Grande Island excessive entrance fees are being collected from local and foreign tourists.
Dumadag said the tourism council already sent a letter to the local government unit in Socorro town to explain the reports of excessive collection or charges.
She said if the practice of charging exorbitant fees goes unchecked, it will drive away tourists.
She admitted that while some LGUs have set transportation fare matrices most of these are not being followed because of the unstable pump price.
She said pump boats have no fare matrix because most of them operate with neither fixed rates nor regular destinations, unlike the motor bancas docked at Surigao ports.
MindaNews tried but failed to contact Provincial Tourism Development Council chairman Jake Miranda.
Asked for comment, German national Kristine Vidazi, who often visits Siargao Islands, said it is a good move to set standard fare rates which will be displayed in conspicuous places like in airports and seaports because she and other foreigners who consider Siargao as their second hometown often get ripped off.
Vidazi, who has been visiting the country for almost three decades now, finds Siargao a Shangri-La of an island.
“The cost of living is still low plus the beauty of nature is incomparable to other regions; it makes me stay good for long in this place,” she said. (Roel Catoto/MindaNews)