February 9, 2023

The City Tourism and Special Events Division hopes to reach the projected number of tourist arrivals this month, at 6,000

Supervising Tourism Operations Officer Aloysius Mapalo said that as of Dec. 1, the CTSED already received 4,000 travel requests from Dec. 1 to 31. He said 3,177 of the requests have been approved and around 100 are pending approval.

Mapalo said most of the requests are for weekend travels, and most are from Metro Manila.

Tourism stakeholders and the city government have reached a consensus, placing a cap of 1,000 tourists allowed to enter the city per day.

The city is receiving 300 to 500 requests per day but a limited number actually completes the process, Mapalo said.

When the city opened its borders to tourists last Oct. 22, more than 6,000 visitors have been approved entry until Nov. 29.

“We’re glad that based on checkpoint registry, 90 percent of those who were approved to enter as tourists actually arrived and passed the checkpoints,” Mapalo said.

Visitors who register at the VIS.I.T.A.baguio.gov.ph are required to submit several documents like hotel booking confirmation, a negative PCR test result or a negative rapid antigen test including their proposed itinerary.

A quick response (QR) code will be sent to the tourist upon approval of the request.

The QR code will be the tourist’s ticket at the border checkpoint which upon verification will allow the tourist to enter. They will be guided by the checkpoint police to the central triage for a medical test before they can be allowed to proceed to their hotel or straight to their tour schedule.

Aside from those who register as tourists, there are also those who arrive in the city via registration with the hdf.baguio.gov.ph for returning residents and those who come for personal travels.

Like tourists, they are also required to submit documents prior to approval and issuance of QR code.

Mapalo said personal travels for various reasons are also seen as tourists being non-Baguio residents.

Baguio is the first local government unit in the country to announce the opening of its borders to tourists to allow the resumption of economic activity.

Meanwhile, Hotel and Restaurant Association of Baguio president Anthony de Leon said they in the tourism industry are hopeful that they will earn something even for this Christmas.

“Umaasa kami na kahit konti, ang mga workers sa tourism industry ay may maiuwi para sa pamilya nila ngayong Pasko,” de Leon said.

Several tourism industry stakeholders have resumed their operation but these are limited which means employees work only on certain days.

De Leon said since they are on 30 percent operation and their workers report only twice a week, workers receive only eight days of salary.

“Instead of laying off workers, we came up with a consensus to go for a reduced work week than having nothing at all,” de Leon said.

The Baguio Country Club where de Leon is general manager is one of the establishments that remained open during the lockdown.

“It will take about three years for many of us to recover. You have to consider that there are some who are now operating using personal funds just to extend something to their workers,” de Leon said. – PNA