February 1, 2023

The City Tourism Office is open to institutionalizing the online registration system for Baguio visitors, which was set up at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.
City Tourism Officer Aloysius Mapalo said the office is supportive of the proposal of the private sector to make the Baguio Visitor Information and Travel Assistant (Visita), a platform in establishing the number of tourists visiting the city.
The Baguio Visita was used at the height of the pandemic to regulate the entry of people to the city and ensure only residents and those with essential transactions are allowed to pass through the borders.
The platform was later used for leisure to ensure tourists comply with the requirements, such as Covid-19 vaccination cards and booking in accredited accommodation establishments before they are allowed entry to the city.
Mapalo said before discussions on the possibility of requiring tourists to use the online registration system have been initiated by the private sector, capturing accurate data on tourist arrivals has to be established first.
The requirements, he said, will no longer be as stringent as the ones asked at the height of the pandemic.
“Only basic information will be asked. Tourists will no longer be asked to upload documents like before,” he said, adding the intention of the Visita registration is to establish the number of tourists visiting the city.
He added during initial discussions, only those who are considered “tourists” will be required to register to the platform, or those attending meetings, incentives, conventions, and exhibits and those who book overnight in hotels and accredited accommodation establishments, among others.
Mapalo said registration in the online platform will complement the registration system of accommodation establishments. Data from accredited accommodation facilities are used as basis in establishing the number of tourists that visit the city.
Mapalo however said not all accommodation establishments submit data on their guests, which is why the data captured reflects only around 30 percent of the actual visitor arrivals.
As an example, he said the tourist data gathered in November last year, which was pegged at 20,000 per week, may be more if all the accommodation facilities registered their guests.
He added the number does not even include tourists who patronized the services of accommodation facilities that do not have permits to operate. There were 980 accommodation establishments with business permits and accredited by the Department of Tourism in 2022.
“If we compute the total occupancy capacity, we will get only 30,000 tourists, which is not the reality. The number of tourists is definitely more,” Mapalo said.
He added the Baguio Visita is also an efficient platform for the visitors to check if the accommodation establishment they booked to stay in is legitimate, especially with the complaints about people who promise cheap but poor or non-existing accommodation facilities to their victims.
Mapalo said Baguio Visita’s existing 24/7 messaging support helped a lot those who have been asking about the legitimacy of people they are transacting with on social media accounts, especially those offering cheap rates. – Jane B. Cadalig