ENTRANCE FEE HIKE. The city government is eyeing an entrance fee increase of PHP150 for all tourists at the Botanical Garden from the current PHP5 for children and PHP10 for adults. The amount will not only allow the city to recoup the expenses in the rehabilitation but the future funds can be used for the upkeep of the other city parks like the famous Burnham Park. (PNA photo by Liza T. Agoot)

BAGUIO CITY – The city government is looking to implement an increase in the entrance fee for visitors at the Botanical Garden to recoup the expenses incurred in rehabilitating and maintaining the park.

"Currently, the entrance fee for children is PHP5 while the entrance fee for adults is PHP10. Upon the enactment of the new ordinance, the entrance fees will be PHP150 for all tourists; PHP50 for Baguio residents who are 13 years old and above; and PHP30 for Baguio children who are 12 years old and below," Jordan Habbiling, information officer at the city council, said in a phone interview on Monday.

Meanwhile, senior citizens and students with appropriate identification cards are eligible for a 20 percent discount.

Habbiling said the current entrance fee rates at the facility are based on the Environment Code of Baguio City that was passed in 2016.

He added that the city council has approved on the first reading the measure increasing the fees.

He said the city government received at least PHP4 million from the time the Botanical Garden opened on the first week of March this year until June.

The city spent PHP62.4 million for the rehabilitation of the garden which started in 2018 and ran until March.

In a financial study submitted by the City Environment and Parks Management Office (CEPMO) to the council, the increase in fees starting in 2023 would result in the collection of PHP70.2 million as against the projected expenses with proposed park projects which is PHP69.06 million.

The Baguio Botanical Garden has captured the attention of both local park-goers with at least 100,000 visitors every month since its opening.

“With the city’s ambitious but realistic plan to transform the Botanical Garden into a premier tourists destination and to attain its desired sustainability, substantial funds must be raised to develop the park further consistent with its master development plan,” CEPMO head Rhenan Diwas said in the proposal.

Diwas said the proposed entrance fee increase would attain a break-even between the expense and the income for the operation, maintenance, and improvement of the park.

The city's Public Information Office, in a clarificatory statement, said the city also spent on plants and placed them in the Botanical Garden to improve its appearance.

Habbiling said the proposed ordinance states that the portion of the city’s general fund coming from the collected entrance fees at the Botanical Garden may be appropriated for the annual budget of the CEPMO and may be intended for environmental programs and projects to sustain and maintain the other city parks.

In a related development, the city council has approved on first reading a proposed ordinance appropriating the amount of PHP50 million for the enhancement, upkeep, and maintenance of the scenic and historic Burnham Park next year, depending on the available fund.

The ordinance recognized that Burnham Park, being the main showcase of the city should be well maintained, well kept, and further enhanced as a world-class family-oriented theme park.

Executive Order 224, series of 1995 issued by former President Fidel V. Ramos as amended by Executive Order No. 695, series of 2009 issued by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo transferred the management, administration, and maintenance of Burnham Park to the local government.

The 34-hectare premier tourist destination was master planned by famous American urban planner Daniel Burnham in the early 1900s resulting in the city being declared the second oldest chartered city in the country on Sept. 1, 1909.

The park hosts various attractions such as the Rose Garden, the Baguio orchidarium, the Ibaloi Heritage Garden, the Melvin Jones football ground, the Burnham lake, among others. (PNA)