June 24, 2024

“Don’t get too excited for now.”
The Baguio City Tourism Office reminded the public not everyone will be allowed entry to the city yet as part of precautions for the gradual reopening of the city’s tourism to tourists from Region 1 on Sept. 22.
The city on Sept. 18 has released the guidelines for the Ridge and Reef Baguio-Region 1 Travel Corridor coverage, which shall cover three phases: phase 1 – Intra-Corridor Travel, which is projected for implementation for one or two months; phase 2 – Expanded Travel Corridor, which is projected to start one or two months after launch; and phase 3 – Sub-National Inter-Travel, projected to start on the third or fourth month after launch.
The complete list of guidelines, posted on the Facebook account of the City Public Information Office, includes the tourists’ registration requirements and dos and don’ts; and guidelines for tourist establishments; tourist site operators/management; tour operators and tour guides; and provincial tourist one-stop shops and triage and testing centers; towns/cities’ readiness criteria.
Queried by city council members during the Sept. 14 sessions, City Supervising Tourism Operations Officer Aloysius Mapalo said the city is looking at a small number of tourists, pegged at 200 tourists daily, to be allowed entry to the city in consideration of the need to easily monitor their movements and activities during their stay.
“Two hundred is minimal because we can accommodate actually more than that since we have many hotels and we are capable of monitoring more, but that is one of the provisions in how we are doing it slowly muna. As the mayor said, it is like a test run so that we will know if we can manage and perhaps increase the number later on,” Mapalo said.
He said tourists who have friends or relatives in the city with whom they can stay are not allowed in the meantime because it would be difficult to monitor their activities.
Those who will be accommodated are those who will comply with the requirements, which include pre-booked stay at accredited hotels and a prior arrangement of their itinerary with travel agencies or tour operators, both of which will become the city’s partners in monitoring of tourist movements.
Tour operators will assist tourists prior to going to Baguio so that they do not have to go around and discover, but instead already have their itinerary.
Mapalo said this is also one of the city government’s concessions with the medical and health sectors, who expressly mentioned the risks if tourists will just be moving about and without the city knowing where they are and what they are doing.
He said tourists have to engage with tour operators who will assign tour guides, thereby not only helping the city government monitor their movement but also restrict them only to areas or tourist sites they are allowed to visit.
Going to areas outside Baguio like Tuba and Itogon will not also be allowed. “Part of our guidelines is to restrict through monitoring the movements of our tourists within Baguio because we would like to respect the pronouncements of our neighboring towns na ayaw muna nilang mag-receive ng tourists. And that is what we will have to enforce because that’s part of our promise to them, na hindi natin so to speak ma-affect ang kanilang jurisdiction,” Mapalo said.
In terms of border management, since entry points to the city are within neighboring towns, Mapalo said they will coordinate with the concerned Benguet mayors.
He said one of the rule sis that any tourist will not be allowed to do stopovers anywhere, as stopovers will be predetermined.
Region 1 officials have initially decided all stopovers are only within La Union and Ilocos Sur, and no stopovers in Pangasinan, Ilocos Norte, and Baguio and Benguet in order not to disturb activities within these areas.
Tourists who will use private vehicles are allowed as long as they coordinate and declare the same with tour operators and travel agents.
“Our reopening does not mean that the roads to Baguio will suddenly open for anyone who wants to come in. Online re-gistration, a requirement, is yet to be launched on Sept. 22. There are set criteria and requirements as to who can be allowed for the meantime. We will start slow,” Mapalo said in a social media post. – Hanna C. Lacsamana