June 7, 2023

Baguio City will remain closed to tourists from other regions except Region 1, even as initial registration showed a number of individuals from other places have requested to travel to the city.

City Tourism Officer Alec Mapalo said since the city government opened the registration for the Ridge to Reef Tourism Corridor on Sept. 22, there are already 487 individuals who registered.

Of the number, 66 have requested to travel to the city, but only 39 of them are from Region 1 particularly from the provinces of La Union, Pangasinan, Ilocos Sur, and Ilocos Norte.

The others are from the National Capital Region and Region 2 and 4.

Mapalo said the earliest travel request was last Oct. 2.

Baguio was supposed to allow the regulated entry of tourists from Region 1 on Sept. 22, but the date was moved to Oct. 1 due to the surge in Covid-19 cases days before the opening.

In a press conference on Oct. 1, Mayor Benjamin Magalong has assured the arrival of tourists from Region 1 will not compromise their health and that of Baguio residents.

“This is why we only limited the number to 200 visitors a day. We want to slowly, safely and responsibly open the city for tourism,” he said.

He added Baguio will not yet accept individual travelers and visitors from other regions.

Mapalo said once in the city, tourists are not allowed to go to the public market and in residential areas, except those that have parks.

The areas that are open for visitors are Burnham Park, a portion of Botanical Garden, Mines View Park, Wright Park, Camp John Hay, and Dominican Heritage Hill, where an art exhibit is ongoing.

Mapalo said the local government of Tuba, Benguet has also allowed tourists to visit the BenCab Museum located in Asin Road, Tuba.

Although the visitors’ movements are restricted only to the areas declared in their itinerary, Mapalo said tourists are still given the liberty to roam in areas such as the central business district, as long as they coordinate this with their tour guides.

Those who want to meet up with their friends and relatives in Baguio can also do so, but they must meet either in the hotels where they are staying, at restaurants accredited by the Department of Tourism, or in the parks. Tourists are banned from visiting their Baguio friends or relatives in their residences.

Mapalo said the reason for this is the assurance that in hotels and in accredited establishments and in parks, sanitary and safety protocols have been put in place.

“We want to monitor their movements and limit their exposure. During their tour, their guides will also have to constantly remind our visitors to observe health protocols,” Mapalo said.

Visitors who want to buy souvenir items from the public market must coordinate with their tour operators to buy the items for them.

Tourists are given a maximum of five days stay in Baguio. Should they wish to extend, they must undergo another RT-PCR test at their own expense and with negative results.

“Our system is restrictive but that’s how we designed it to be. As we move along, we will learn and improve on things,” Mapalo said. – Jane B. Cadalig