April 23, 2024

Baguio City’s reopening to tourists from the Ilocos Region, dubbed as the Ridge and Reef Tourism Corridor, will push through as planned, but instead of Sept. 22, travel to the city will be allowed starting Oct. 1.
Registration of tourists’ planned travel and itinerary, on the other hand, has started on Sept. 22, via the Baguio Visita or Visitors Information and Travel Assistance launched by the local government units of Baguio, La Union, Pangasinan, Ilocos Sur, and Ilocos Norte (Blupisin) at the Baguio Convention Center with Tourism Sec. Bernadette Puyat as guest.  
The city government has decided to delay the start of tourists’ entry following the surge of Covid-19 cases last week, totaling 160 from Sept. 20 to 24. 
The highest number during the four-day period was recorded on Sept. 24 at 52 cases – the highest so far since the first case surge in August with 27 cases recorded on Aug. 15.
Most of the recent cases resulted from clustering in Barangays Sto. Niño-Slaughterhouse, Ferdinand/Happy Homes-Campo Sioco, and Lourdes Extension lagoon area, over which Mayor Benjamin Magalong has issued hard lockdown orders for the conduct of thorough disinfection and contact tracing.
Forty-three new cases were recorded on Sept. 20, with seven patients who have recovered; 15 cases on Sept. 21, with eight patients who have recovered; 27 new cases and 10 patients who recovered on Sept. 22; and 23 cases, six have recovered on Sept. 23.
The city has a total of 681 cases as of Sept. 24 – 265 are active cases, 404 are recoveries, and 12 deaths. 
While there were 2,583 active suspect cases, 41,865 have so far tested negative based on their reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction test results. 
The City Public Information Office reported more teams have been deployed to address the increase in cases by implementing contact tracing, disinfection, isolation, quarantine, testing, and medical interventions.
Meanwhile, the city will stick to its initial plan of limiting the number of tourists to be allowed entry to 200 daily from the Blupisin bubble for the phase 1 starting Oct. 1 and shall widen cautiously and gradually in phases 2 and 3 to other nearby regions if the situation would be assessed as safe for more tourists.
Magalong said the city will begin by admitting only qualified Region 1 tourists, who must follow the strict guidelines from pre-registration online, pre-booked accommodation, guided tour on allowed tourist spots, and no do-it-yourself itinerary, among other conditions.
As safety for the tourism enterprise is a big challenge, he assured reviving tourism will be done slowly, surely, and safely in a calibrated, graduated manner. 
“The goal is crystal clear: to make sure that no one – our residents, our visitors, our tourists, our travelers – will never get into harm’s way. Even as we remain threatened by the pandemic, we must still do everything as safely as possible for economy to get back to its feet. It is a time for tourism to give us back the means towards economic recovery. Handa na po ang Baguio at ating kalapit na probinsya (ng Region 1),” Magalong said.
He added he has high hopes that Cordillera provinces will join the tourism bubble, as he shared the news from the DOT secretary that governors Melchor Diclas of Benguet and Jerry Dalipog of Ifugao and some mayors of Benguet have finally decided to join the Blupisin as soon as possible and may soon give rise to the Cordillera-Region 1 tourism corridor.
“We are proud because in the City of Baguio and the Cordillera, there is such thing as spirit of inclusiveness,” he said. – Hanna C. Lacsamana